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Diamond Nanoparticles
5 nm diamond nanoparticles, produced during detonation of carbon based explosives, have been commercially available for some time and used in for polishing or formation of super-hard composite materials. Recently there has been a significant increase in suggested applications for this material, for example in drug delivery or use as a biomarker in cellular imaging. In many cases it has been assumed that the desirable properties of diamond: it is inert, biocompatible and non-cytotoxic, can also be attributed to diamond in its nano-form. However, we have recently found that undoped 5 nm diamond nanoparticles appear to be redox active, undergoing reduction and oxidation in solution and mediating other redox processes, including oxygen reduction. This is unexpected, since diamond is the text-book example of an insulating material, with a band gap of 5.47 eV. We believe that unsaturated surface bonding may be responsible for the observed effects, after all around 15 % of all of the atoms for a 5 nm particle are present at the surface, so at these dimensions it appears that surface chemistry dominates that of the bulk. Studies are currently underway in this laboratory to determine the origin of the observed electrochemistry and to understand the implications for posited applications and its potential for use in electroanalytical applications. This research is carried out in collaboration with Dr Daren J. Caruana (UCL).
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