Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/03/24/aussie_boffins_discover_fifth_form/

Aussie boffins discover fifth form of carbon

Strewth - it's magnetic!

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Science, 24th March 2004 15:42 GMT

Boffins at Australia’s National University in Canberra have made a new - and magnetic - form of carbon which they have dubbed nanofoam. Because of its unique magnetic properties, it could have important medical applications, the team says.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society in Montreal, Canada, John Giapintzakis of the University of Crete said he has studied the foam using an electron microscope, and had determined that it was a fifth form of carbon. He also discovered its magnetic properties.

Carbon assumes this new foam-like structure when subjected to high-energy laser light. When the carbon reached around 10,000°C, it shaped itself into a lattice, or web of carbon nanotubes, according to a report on Nature.

Although the foam loses its magnetism after a few hours at room temperature, even this short amount of time opens up several possible applications, according to Giapintzakis. It could make it possible to use magnetic resonance imaging to observe blood-flow, for example.

Nature also suggests that it could be used to treat tumours, because it is bad at transferring heat: David Tománek of Michigan State University said that the foam could be injected into tumours and then heated. The foam would absorb the heat, and kill the tumour as the temperature rose. ®

Those other four forms of carbon in full: