Diamond vs. Q-carbon

What's the Difference?

Diamond and Q-carbon are both forms of carbon with unique properties. Diamond is a well-known allotrope of carbon, known for its exceptional hardness and brilliance. It is formed under high pressure and temperature conditions deep within the Earth's mantle. On the other hand, Q-carbon is a recently discovered phase of carbon that is even harder than diamond. It is formed by rapidly cooling amorphous carbon using lasers. Q-carbon also has the ability to self-organize into various structures, making it potentially useful for a wide range of applications, including electronics and medicine. While diamond has been extensively studied and utilized for its industrial and gemstone applications, Q-carbon is a relatively new material that holds promise for future technological advancements.


Crystal StructureCubicAmorphous
HardnessExtremely hardSuperhard
Electrical ConductivityInsulatorSemiconductor
Thermal ConductivityHighHigh
UsesJewelry, cutting toolsElectronic devices, sensors

Further Detail


Diamond and Q-carbon are two fascinating forms of carbon with distinct attributes and properties. While diamond has long been celebrated for its exceptional hardness and brilliance, Q-carbon is a relatively new discovery that offers exciting possibilities for various applications. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of both diamond and Q-carbon, exploring their unique features, formation processes, and potential uses.


Diamond is a well-known allotrope of carbon, composed of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal lattice structure. It is renowned for its exceptional hardness, making it the hardest naturally occurring material known to man. This hardness is a result of the strong covalent bonds between carbon atoms, which form a three-dimensional network. Additionally, diamond exhibits excellent thermal conductivity, electrical insulation, and optical transparency, making it highly sought after for various industrial and jewelry applications.

The formation of diamond occurs under extreme pressure and temperature conditions deep within the Earth's mantle. Carbon-rich materials, such as graphite, undergo a process called "diamond crystallization" over millions of years. This process involves subjecting carbon atoms to immense pressure, typically around 725,000 pounds per square inch (psi), and temperatures exceeding 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius). The combination of these intense conditions allows carbon atoms to rearrange into the diamond lattice structure.

Due to its exceptional hardness and brilliance, diamond has been treasured for centuries as a symbol of luxury and wealth. It is extensively used in jewelry, where its optical properties create stunning reflections and refractions of light. Additionally, diamond's hardness makes it ideal for industrial applications, including cutting, grinding, and drilling tools. Its thermal conductivity also makes it valuable in heat management applications, such as in high-performance electronics and laser technology.


Q-carbon is a relatively new form of carbon that was discovered in 2015 by researchers at North Carolina State University. It is an amorphous phase of carbon, meaning it lacks a well-defined crystal structure like diamond. Unlike diamond, Q-carbon is formed at room temperature and ambient pressure, making its production significantly easier and faster.

The creation of Q-carbon involves using a high-power laser to rapidly heat amorphous carbon, such as a polymer, to a temperature exceeding 3,630 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius) and then rapidly cooling it. This process allows carbon atoms to rearrange into a new structure, resulting in the formation of Q-carbon. The unique properties of Q-carbon include its hardness, magnetism, and the ability to emit bright fluorescent light.

Q-carbon's hardness is remarkable, surpassing that of diamond. It is estimated to be 40% harder than diamond, making it an incredibly durable material. This exceptional hardness, combined with its magnetism, opens up possibilities for various applications, including the development of next-generation electronic devices, super-strong and lightweight materials, and even quantum computing.


While both diamond and Q-carbon are forms of carbon, they differ significantly in terms of their formation processes, properties, and potential applications. Diamond is formed under extreme pressure and temperature conditions deep within the Earth's mantle, while Q-carbon can be created at room temperature and ambient pressure using a high-power laser.

Diamond's exceptional hardness and brilliance have made it highly desirable for jewelry and industrial applications, such as cutting and drilling tools. On the other hand, Q-carbon surpasses diamond in terms of hardness and exhibits unique properties like magnetism and bright fluorescence, which open up exciting possibilities for advanced electronics and materials.

Both diamond and Q-carbon have excellent thermal conductivity, but diamond is known for its superior optical transparency, while Q-carbon's fluorescence sets it apart. Diamond's long-standing reputation and established market make it more readily available and widely used, while Q-carbon's potential applications are still being explored and developed.

In conclusion, diamond and Q-carbon are two remarkable forms of carbon with distinct attributes and potential applications. Diamond's exceptional hardness, brilliance, and thermal conductivity have made it a highly sought-after material for centuries. On the other hand, Q-carbon's unique properties, including its hardness surpassing that of diamond, magnetism, and bright fluorescence, offer exciting prospects for future technologies. As research and development continue, both diamond and Q-carbon will undoubtedly contribute to advancements in various fields, shaping the world of materials and technology.

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