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Model of a single 5 nm nanodiamond particle
Model of 5 nm nanodiamond particle


Nanodiamond powder produced by detonation on an industrial scale in many countries is a unique carbon nanomaterial with a broad range of existing and potential applications and an interesting history. Discovered in the former USSR in the beginning of the 1960s, it became known to the rest of the world only by the late 1980s with the interest to its applications and development steadily growing since the late 1990s. Nanodiamond is composed of ~5 nm diameter particles that comprise diamond core (sp3 carbon) covered by a layer of surface functional groups and patches of sp2 carbon. The diamond core of a nanodiamond particle delivers the superior mechanical, optical, and thermal properties of bulk diamond at the nanoscale, whereas the surface layer of functional groups provides numerous options for functionalization of this material, changing its properties, and tailoring for applications in advanced multifunctional composites, drug delivery, biomedical imaging, lubricants, etc.

The research activities in our group are aimed at understanding fundamental physics and chemistry of this material and using this knowledge to rationally design nanodiamond for applications in extreme environments, composites, drug delivery, tissue engineering, imaging, sensing, and energy storage.

Fragment of Ti3C2(OH)2 MXene structure
Fragment of Ti3C2(OH)2 MXene structure

MXene (2D Transition Metal Carbides/Nitrides)

MXene is the name of a recently discovered and potentially the largest family of two-dimensional (2D) materials. Chemically, MXenes are 2D carbides, nitrides or carbonitrides of transition metals. The first MXene was produced in 2011 at Drexel University by chemical etching of a MAX phase Ti3AlC2. The process resulted in removal of Al (A element) leaving behind the layers made of blocks of titanium (M element) carbide (C is X element), hence the name of this material - MXene. MXenes combine 2D structure and hydrophilicity typically found in clay minerals with high electrical and thermal conductivity typical for graphene, therefore sometimes they are called "conductive clays". A multitude of other useful properties, including magnetism, thermoelectricity, high Young's modulus and bending rigidity, etc. have been predicted for MXenes. Out of over 60 potentially existing MXenes, only a small number have been synthesized so far.

We explore new synthetic routes to MXenes, study their chemistry and fundamental vibrational properties using Raman spectroscopy and neutron scattering. We plan to use this knowledge to design MXenes for different applications including extreme environments, composites, electronics, energy storage, biology and medicine.