Is Graphene Stronger Than Diamond? (Scientific Explanation)

Is Graphene Stronger than Diamond

We often listen to diamonds as the strongest substance known. It is true up to some extent as the diamond itself means unbreakable. Do you know that a diamond uses a diamond to cut itself? Yes! Nevertheless, if there is an element stronger than a diamond, the question arises? Is Graphene the element tougher than a diamond?

In this article, we will answer these queries in detail. Many students have doubts regarding this topic, and they frequently ask about Graphene and diamond comparison. Let us dive in to know some interesting facts about Graphene and Diamond.

So, the answer to whether Graphene is stronger than a diamond is yes; Graphene is stronger than diamond. Graphene is a single plate of carbon atoms. It is about forty times stronger than a diamond. The atoms inside carbon layers of Graphene tie themselves tightly, which makes it the hardest substance. Hence. The strongness and stiffness come from the tightly bonded atoms within the carbon layers of Graphene.

Why is Graphene more Stronger than a Diamond?

Graphene is much stronger than diamond because Graphene is a single sheet consisting of carbon layers.

The atoms within these carbon layers tie themselves forming nanotubes. Nanotubes are hollow tubes with only one nanometer in diameter with smooth sheets of carbon atoms curled around the tubes.

These strong bonding nanotubes make Graphene the toughest substance ever known.

There are many other factors demonstrating why Graphene is tougher than diamond. These factors include the difference in lattice structures of diamond and Graphene.

The difference in tensile strength, melting and boiling points, and the young modulus of the two materials also greatly impact the hardness of Graphene and diamonds.

Here is the description of each factor, signifying the reasons.

  Graphene Diamond
Lattice Structure Ortho Hexagonal Face-Centered Cubic
Bond Length 0.142nm 0.154nm
Tensile Strength 130 gigapascals 60 gigapascals
Melting Point 7658.33 degrees Fahrenheit 3600 degrees Fahrenheit
Boiling Point 7592 degree Fahrenheit 5600 degrees Fahrenheit
Young Modulus 2400 GPa 1050 GPa
Density 2.267 g/cm3 3.53 g/cm3

Differentiation based on Properties of Graphene and Diamond

The properties that indicate the explanation why Graphene is stronger and stiffer than diamond includes:

The Difference in Lattice Structures:

The lattice structure of Graphene is ortho hexagonal. Graphene’s single layer of carbon sheet consists of two-dimensional atomic crystals.

Structure and Properties of Graphene - ScienceDirect

The thickness of this layer is 0.35nm. The length of the carbon-carbon bond in Graphene is about 0.142nm.

On the other hand, the diamond carbon-carbon bond length is about 0.154nm. It indicates that diamond C-C bond length is greater than Graphene C-C bond length. So, it becomes easier for one to break C-C bonds of diamond than Graphene.

Forms of Crystalline Carbon | CK-12 Foundation

Hence, the heat required to break down carbon bonds of Graphene is more than the heat required to break carbon bonds of a diamond. Still, the heat needed to break bonds of a diamond is very vast, roughly 3093.33 degrees Celsius.

The Difference in Tensile Strength or Bond Strength:

Tensile strength or bond strength is the maximum load a material can bear under tension without getting stretched and fractures.

The tensile strength of Graphene is 130 gigapascals.

At the same time, the resistance power of diamond under tension without getting stretched, i.e., its tensile or bond strength of diamond, is observed around 60 gigapascals.

Hence, Graphene can bear an extra load than diamond, making it tougher.

The Difference in Melting and Boiling Points:

The melting point of the diamond is 3600 degrees Fahrenheit, and the boiling point is 5600 degrees Fahrenheit.

On the other hand, the melting point of Graphene is around 7658.33 degrees Fahrenheit( or 4510 Kelvins). It means there is a need to melt Graphene around 4000 degrees Fahrenheit at a different temperature.

The Difference in the Young Modulus:

Young modulus is the tensile strength ratio to the tensile strain. Here, stress is the force applied per unit area and strain extension per unit length.

In simpler words, the young modulus of any material is the property of that material to deform and stretch under pressure or tension.

The young modulus of a diamond is equal to 1050 GPa. At the same time, the young modulus of Graphene is (2.4+0.4) TPA or (2.4-0.4) TPa.

Hence, the young modulus of single carbon layered Graphene is about 2400 GPa. It means the capacity of Graphene to deform and stretch is much greater than that of a diamond.

Hence, the young modulus is another factor implying the Graphene is harder and more flexible than diamond.

Young's modulus - Wikipedia

The Difference in Densities:

The mass per unit volume of any material is defined as density. The density of diamonds is around 3.53 grams per centimeter cube.

However, the density of Graphene is around 2.267 grams per centimeter cube. It signifies that diamond is heavier in weight than Graphene.

Nevertheless, that does not make Graphene less strong. Well, Graphene is even lighter than paper. It is still 2000 times as strong and tough as steel and 40 times stronger than diamond.

Is Graphene the only Element Stronger than a Diamond?

The question arises: is only Graphene the toughest element than a diamond?

The answer is no. Not only Graphene but several elements exist that are far stronger than diamond. The list of those elements include:

1. Wurtzite Boron Nitride- Wurtzite boron nitride is formed during volcanic eruptions. A tetrahedral crystal lattice, wurtzite boron nitride is around 18% tougher than diamond.

Wurtzite Boron Nitride Market: United States Industry Analysis

2. Lonsdaleite- Lonsdaleite forms after the compression of graphite into a rigid crystalline structure. Lonsdaleite is around 58% stronger than diamond.

Lonsdaleite Diamonds Formed by High Energy Event?

3. Dyneema- This is not a naturally occurring substance; rather, it is a synthetic polyethylene polymer with a very high molecular weight. It is considered the strongest fiber in the world ever discovered.

Carbon Fiber Dyneema® Core Sheet - 1/8" x 24" x 48" | DragonPlate

This long chain Dyneema is over 15 times as strong as steel and the only artificial substance stronger than diamond.

4. Palladium micro-alloy glass- A tougher glass than a diamond that does not contain carbon. It consists of palladium, silver, silicon, phosphorus, and germanium.

New metallic glass promises super strength - CNET

5. Buckypaper- Like Graphene, Buckypaper also consists of carbon nanotubes but in a hexagonal shape. Buckypaper is lighter but stronger than a diamond, with high thermal conductivity and electromagnetic properties.

High Conductivity MWNT Blend Buckypaper - 12" x 12", 20 gsm

Hence, besides Graphene, these are the only five metals stronger than diamond.

What are the Exceptional Characteristics of Graphene?

Besides being the toughest substance ever, Graphene has other exceptional characteristics that stand out Graphene from other substances.

The flow of electrons from Graphene occurs very smoothly without any electrical resistance. Because of graphene electrons conducting property, it becomes a suitable material for transparent electrodes generally used in solar cells.

The high-quality multi-layered electrode films occur from Graphene. Such films can combine into fully operating touch screen devices, overcoming high strains. Graphene, in the future, will appear in powering the screens of several electronic appliances.

Besides its general properties, scientists modify Graphene and cultivate some artificial properties. Graphene can possess magnetic properties. Graphene’s thermal conductivity has also been enhanced by forming the only isotope of carbon ever.

One of the best discoveries by scientists regarding Graphene is the graphene supercapacitor. It is an innovative energy storage appliance, having a very high energy release and storage capacity. These discoveries now have copious technological applications.

High Energy Low Cost Stretchable Supercapacitor Based on Nitrogen-Doped Graphene/Hydrogel and Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

Another outstanding discovery relating to Graphene is membranes consisting of graphene oxide. Such membranes are used in sealing the metal container. These membranes are so strong that not even a single helium molecule can penetrate inside the container.

Graphene oxide membrane-filtration theory. (Adapted from Mi et al.,... | Download Scientific Diagram

Only water can pass through these membranes. However, we can fix this issue by using water filtrations. So, these are the exceptional characteristics of Graphene.

The Peculiar Behavior of Graphene

Graphene has a peculiar behavior. Why? Because Graphene consists of carbon atoms consider being under the classification of nonmetals.

Graphene, being nonmetal, must have nonmetallic properties.

However, the fact is that Graphene resembles metallic properties. The following points indicate the metallic behavior of Graphene:

• Nonmetals are usually soft, but Graphene is stiff.

• Nonmetals except graphite cannot conduct electricity, but Graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity to copper.

The only similarity between nonmetals and Graphene is that Graphene becomes transparent when cut into thin sheets. Graphene is also flexible like other nonmetals.

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Hence, it was the answer to all the questions of whether Graphene is stronger than diamond or not and many important insights behind it. Graphene is around 2000 times stronger than steel but lighter than paper.

We get to know why Graphene is stronger than tough lustrous diamonds. We learned of all the other elements tougher than diamond—for example, Wurtzite boron nitride, Lonsdaleite, Dyneema, and many more.

We discussed the factors that signify the superiority of Graphene in terms of hardness over diamonds. We became aware of Graphene and diamonds’ density, lattice structures, young modulus, tensile strength, melting, and boiling points. Moreover, the difference between both materials leads to the hardness of Graphene and makes it stronger than diamond.

We got familiar with the peculiar behavior of Graphene. Also, we realized the exceptional characteristics of Graphene that stand out from other substances. In the future, there will be many more discoveries waiting in respect to the toughest substance, Graphene. So, it was a wrap-up for the topic: is Graphene Stronger than a diamond?

Happy Learning!

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