Ultralarge elastic deformation of nanoscale diamond

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Abstract

Diamonds have substantial hardness and durability, but attempting to deform diamonds usually results in brittle fracture. We demonstrate ultralarge, fully reversible elastic deformation of nanoscale (~300 nanometers) single-crystalline and polycrystalline diamond needles. For single-crystalline diamond, the maximum tensile strains (up to 9%) approached the theoretical elastic limit, and the corresponding maximum tensile stress reached ~89 to 98 gigapascals. After combining systematic computational simulations and characterization of pre- and postdeformation structural features, we ascribe the concurrent high strength and large elastic strain to the paucity of defects in the small-volume diamond nanoneedles and to the relatively smooth surfaces compared with those of microscale and larger specimens. The discovery offers the potential for new applications through optimized design of diamond nanostructure, geometry, elastic strains, and physical properties.

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