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NEWS
Carnegie Institution of Washington
11 Oct 2011

Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and takes on a wide variety of forms, called allotropes, including diamond and graphite. Scientists at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory are part of a team that has discovered a new form of carbon, which is capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses that were previously observed only in diamond. […]

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Carbon is the fourth-most-abundant element in the universe and takes on a wide variety of forms, called allotropes, including diamond and graphite. Scientists at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory are part of a team that has discovered a new form of carbon, which is capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses that were previously observed only in diamond. This breakthrough discovery is published by Physical Review Letters.
The team was led by Stanford’s Wendy L. Mao and her graduate student Yu Lin and includes Carnegie’s Ho-kwang (Dave) Mao, Li Zhang, Paul Chow, Yuming Xiao, Maria Baldini, and Jinfu Shu. The experiment started with a form of carbon called glassy carbon, which was first synthesized in the 1950s, and was found to combine desirable properties of glasses and ceramics with those of graphite. The team created the new carbon allotrope by compressing glassy carbon to above 400,000 times normal atmospheric pressure.

This new carbon form was capable of withstanding 1.3 million times normal atmospheric pressure in one direction while confined under a pressure of 600,000 times atmospheric levels in other directions. No substance other than diamond has been observed to withstand this type of pressure stress, indicating that the new carbon allotrope must indeed be very strong.

However, unlike diamond and other crystalline forms of carbon, the structure of this new material is not organized in repeating atomic units. It is an amorphous material, meaning that its structure lacks the long-range order of crystals. This amorphous, superhard carbon allotrope would have a potential advantage over diamond if its hardness turns out to be isotropic—that is, having hardness that is equally strong in all directions. In contrast, diamond’s hardness is highly dependent upon the direction in which the crystal is oriented.

“These findings open up possibilities for potential applications, including super hard anvils for high-pressure research and could lead to new classes of ultradense and strong materials,” said Russell Hemley, director of Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory.
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This research was funded, in part, by the Department of Energy’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering, EFree, HPCAT, where some of the experiments were performed, is funded by DOE-BES, DOE-NNSA, NSF, and the W.M. Keck Foundation. APS, where some of the experiments were performed, is supported by DOE-BES.

NEWS
Harvard School of Public Health
10 Oct 2014

Society and modern medicine’s approach to aging and end-of-life care needs to be more focused on extending patients’ quality of life and human connection, according to Atul Gawande, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and author of a new book, Being Mortal. Gawande, a surgeon, […]

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Society and modern medicine’s approach to aging and end-of-life care needs to be more focused on extending patients’ quality of life and human connection, according to Atul Gawande, associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Harvard School of Public Health and author of a new book, Being Mortal.

Gawande, a surgeon, executive director of Ariadne Labs, and staff writer for The New Yorker, discussed the book, released October 7, 2014, in multiple media interviews, including the television shows The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Charlie Rose Show. He talked about how dealing with his own father’s cancer inspired him, in part, to write the book. “We don’t ask what priorities people have in their life besides just living longer. What are the tradeoffs you are willing to make or not make, what are your fears and goals, what worries you about the future? If we ask that as doctors, we have some guideposts when life is short,” Gawande told Stewart.

Gawande said the book offers a way “to remake how we in medicine and society manage mortality through the stories of patients, their family members, nursing home attendants, hospice workers, geriatricians, surgeons, oncologists, pioneers, contrarians, and many more of the more than 200 people I interviewed over the last several years.”

Watch Gawande’s appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (the interview appears at approximately 13:00)

Read an excerpt published in The New York Times: The Best Possible Day

Read an interview in The Boston Globe: Atul Gawande finds time between patients and family for writing

Listen to an interview on The Diane Rehm Show: Atul Gawande: “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End”