Molecular dynamics simulations of shock compressed heterogeneous materials. II. The graphite/diamond transition case for astrophysics applications
We present a series of molecular dynamics simulations of the shock compression of copper matrices containing a single graphite inclusion: these model systems can be related to some specific carbon-rich rocks which, after a meteoritic impact, are found to contain small fractions of nanodiamonds embedded in graphite in the vicinity of high impedance minerals. We show that the graphite to diamond transformation occurs readily for nanometer-sized graphite inclusions, via a shock accumulation process, provided the pressure threshold of the bulk graphite/diamond transition is overcome, independently of the shape or size of the inclusion. Although high diamond yields (similar to 80%) are found after a few picoseconds in all cases, the transition is non-isotropic and depends substantially on the relative orientation of the graphite stack with respect to the shock propagation, leading to distinct nucleation processes and size-distributions of the diamond grains. A substantial regraphitization process occurs upon release and only inclusions with favorable orientations likely lead to the preservation of a fraction of this diamond phase. These results agree qualitatively well with the recent experimental observations of meteoritic impact samples. (C) 2015 AIP Publishing LLC.