Naturally occurring graphite cones

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Carbon, boron nitride, and other materials that form nanotubes are also able to form conical shapes. Even though the potential applications of cone arrays as electron emitters and other devices are very promising, understanding of their structure and formation mechanisms is still very limited compared to nanotubes and other carbon structures. Moreover, the cones have only been synthesized in a mixture with other shapes, but never as continuous arrays. It appears, however, that we can learn from nature how to produce large carbon cone arrays. We here report the first-known natural occurrence of large arrays of conical graphite crystals. These occur on the surfaces of millimeter-sized polycrystalline spheroidal aggregates of graphite. Cone heights range from less then a micron to 40 μm, which is larger than any other carbon cones reported in the literature. They are also observed to dominate sample surfaces. The surface topography of the cones and petrologic relations of the samples suggest that the cones formed from a metamorphic fluid. Unlike most laboratory produced cones, the natural cones have a wide distribution of apex angles, which supports a disclination model for cone-helix structures.

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© 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0008-6223(03)00214-8

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