Interplay of Mechanochemistry and Material Processes in the Graphite to Diamond Phase Transformation

BW Hamilton and TC Germann, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY LETTERS, 14, 8584-8589 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.jpclett.3c01991

The manifestation of intramolecular strains in covalent systems is widely known to accelerate chemical reactions and open alternative reaction paths. This process is moderately well understood for isolated molecules and unimolecular processes. However, in condensed matter processes such as phase transformations, material properties and structure may influence typical mechanochemical effects. Therefore, we utilize steered molecular dynamics to induce out of plane strains in graphite and compress the system under a constant strain rate to induce phase transformation. We show that the out of plane strain allows phase transformations to initiate at small amounts of compressive strain. However, in contrast to typical mechanochemical results, the sum of compressive and out of plane work needed to form a diamond has a local minimum due to altered defect formation processes during phase transformation. Additionally, these altered processes slow the kinetics of the phase transformation, taking longer from initiation to total material transformation.

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