Fungal Mycelium Transformation into Nanostructured Ultrananocrystalline Diamond via Microwave Plasma Pyrolysis

B. Stein
University of Texas at Dallas/Center for Engineering Innovation, Texas, United States

Poster stand number: T143

Keywords: pyrolysis, diamond, mycelium, plasma, nanostructured

Fungal mycelium has been touted as an environmentally sustainable potential replacement for a wide range of materials commonly used today, including textiles, building materials and medical bandages. Additional applications of mycelium are possible through pyrolysis, wherein the chitin in the mycelium is carbonized to produce useful carbon allotropes like biochar or activated carbon. The R&D described here demonstrated that the pyrolysis process can be achieved quickly and efficiently with a plasma-reactor integrated into a commonly available kitchen microwave oven. The R&D demonstrated that this microwave plasma pyrolysis (MPP) process converts the mycelium into a “myco-diamond” matrix containing ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) nanostructures with macro, micro, and nanoscale features. Verification of the MPP-induced transformation of mycelium into UNCD is confirmed via complementary materials analysis techniques including Raman spectroscopy, High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM). Analysis of the myco-diamond surface morphology was performed via Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). The MPP process represents a scalable and low-cost method of producing UNCD nanomaterials derived from renewable biological sources.