Diamond is the hardest material found in nature—diamond also has the highest thermal conductivity, allowing the most heat to flow through it rapidly.

An international team of scientists discovered using supercomputer simulations that by flexing diamond, its thermal conductivity can be drastically tuned up or down. Scientists worldwide are interested in studying elastic strain engineering to discover the properties that materials exhibit when they are under large tensile or shear stresses.

Findings like this could open the door for developing new microelectronic and optoelectronic devices such as computer chips, , communication devices, and more.

"Our study demonstrates the framework for mapping the entire phonon stability boundary in six dimensional strain space, which can guide the engineering of materials through elastic strain engineering," said Frank Shi, a former researcher in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Shi co-authored the study revealing diamond's tunable thermal conductivity published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February 2024.

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