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How to Bend Diamonds – IEEE Spectrum

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Image: Yang Lu, Amit Banerjee, Daniel Bernoulli, Hongti Zhang, Ming Dao and Subra Suresh

It’s commonly known that diamonds are the hardest natural material. However, with that hardness comes brittleness: they may be hard but they’re not very flexible.

Now an international team of researchers has demonstrated that diamonds, which are commonly believed to be inflexible, can be bent and stretched significantly. The researchers showed that the maximum tensile elastic strain of a diamond can reach nearly 9 percent, close to the theoretical limit of the material.

The researchers believe that these enhanced mechanical properties make nanodiamonds much more durable than expected, and therefore could lead to applications that involve mechanical loading, making them candidates for applications such as diamond needle-based intracellular delivery. But it is what this flexiblity does to diamonds’ optical and electrical properties may prove to be the most significant in the long run.