A new carbon structure has been discovered and it may be the strongest material yet. However, curious properties also give it interesting electronic and energy storage applications.
It wasn’t too long ago that graphene made the news as the world’s strongest material; it even won the Nobel prize in 2010. Already though, it may have become usurped by yet another carbon based material known as carbyne. Carbyne is a chain of carbon atoms held together by either double, or single and triple alternating atomic bonds. This, in a sense, makes Carbyne a one-dimensional material, unlike the flat, two-dimensional graphene or the three-dimensional hollowed out carbon nanotubes.
If it can be produced in large quantities, industry will be able to make use of several unique properties of the material which have been outlines by Rice University’s Boris Yakobson and his group. For starters, the tensile strength of the material, it’s ability to withstand stretching, is expected to be twice as high as for graphene, which is already ridiculously strong. It also has twice the tensile stiffness of graphene, and nearly three times the stiffness of diamond. However, there is more to the material than it’s resistance towards physical abuse: By twisting or stretching it, one can alter the molecule’s bandgap, effectively manipulating the size of an energy range where no electron states can exist. It also has the ability to bind itself to side molecules, making carbyne a curious candidate for energy storage.
Nanotubes are SO last decade
“You could look at it as an ultimately thin graphene ribbon, reduced to just one atom, or an ultimately thin nanotube,” said Yakobson, “Regardless of the applications, academically, it’s very exciting to know the strongest possible assembly of atoms.” Yakobosn believes that the new material may be the highest possible stable energy state for carbon.