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Recently, sophisticated theoretical computational studies have proposed several new crystal structures of carbon (e.g., bct-C4, H-, M-, R-, S-, W-, and Z-carbon). However, until now, there lacked experimental evidence to verify the predicted high-pressure structures for cold-compressed elemental carbon at least up to 50 GPa. Here we present direct experimental evidence that this enigmatic high-pressure structure is currently only consistent with M-carbon, one of the proposed carbon structures. Furthermore, we show that this phase transition is extremely sluggish, which led to the observed broad x-ray diffraction peaks in previous studies and hindered the proper identification of the post-graphite phase in cold-compressed carbon.

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Scientific Reports, v. 2, art. 520