Nanodiamond Research

The term ‘nanodiamond’ is broadly used for a variety of diamond-based materials at the nanoscale (the length scale of approximately 1 - 100 nanometer) including pure-phase diamond films, diamond particles and their structural assemblies. Methods of nanodiamond synthesis are diverse involving methods such as a gas phase nucleation at ambient pressure to high pressure high temperature graphite transformation within a shock wave.

There is a special class of nanodiamond material called 'ultra-nanocrystalline' diamond (or 'ultra-dispersed' diamond) with the characteristic size of the basic diamond constituents encompassing the range of just a few nanometers to distinguish it from other diamond-based nanostructures with characteristic sizes above ~10nm. Within this class of the materials, very attractive for the nearest future nanotechnological applications are ultrananocrystalline particles produced by detonation of carbon explosive materials (characteristic size of primary particles ~ 3-6 nm) developed in the former USSR in the 60-s. The nanodiamond synthesized from carbon contained in the molecules of explosives by the detonation of the explosive is often called nanodiamond of detonation origin or detonation nanodiamond [1-4]. This class of nanodiamond material is technologically important since detonation nanodiamond can be produced in bulk quantities.

Detonation nanodiamond (DND) materials posses different degrees of diamond purity and a wide variety of functional groups/elements at the surface of diamond particles (Fig.1) depending on the method of purification of detonation soot obtained after the explosion. Detonation diamond purity and surface chemistry significantly vary from vendor to vendor.

Traditional detonation nanodiamond applications include metal-diamond galvanic coatings, polishing pastes and suspensions, polymer composities, lubricating oils, greases and lubricant-coolants. Novel detonation nanodiamond niche applications developed recently include DND for systems of magnetic recording, adsorbent of a new type, as a component in the production of diamond ceramics and moulds made of diamond-containing materials, as coatings in field emission devices, catalyzes of heterogeneous and electrochemical catalysis, in proton-conducting nanocomposite membranes in fuel cells applications. DND had also been employed for seeding substrates used in the CVD growth of diamond films. Preliminary investigation demonstrated that DND is non-toxic and biocompatible, that make it attractive for bio-applications taking into account its rich surface chemistry that can be modified in a controllable way.

In our research we pursue applications based on nanodiamond of detonation origin, including field emission devices, nanocomposites for microelectronics as well as bioapplications.


1. Dolmatov, V. Y., Detonation synthesis ultradispersed diamonds: properties and applications, Russian Chemical Reviews, 70, 607, 2001.

2. Shenderova, O.A., Zhirnov, V.V., and Brenner, D.W., Carbon nanostructures., Critical Rev. in Solid State and Materials Sciences, 27, 227, 2002. Link

3. Detonation Nanodiamonds and Related Materials, Bibliography Index, First Issue, Eds. A. Vul, V. Dolmatov and O. Shenderova, “FIZINTEL”, S.Petersburg, Russia, 2003.

4. Ultrananocrystalline Diamond: Synthesis, properties and Applications, edited by D.Gruen, A.Vul and O.Shenderova, NATO Science Series, Kluwer Acad.Publ., 2005.

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