Carbyne is one of the new generation carbon-based materials which may revolutionize electronics and manufacturing, and that day may now be one step closer. The ultra-thin chains have been manufactured in the past, but developers were only able to produce the substance in small quantities, unsuitable for industrial use — until now.
Carbon atoms are lined into chains in single file producing threads just one atom in diameter. The material is highly rigid, and possesses a great deal of tensile strength. The ability of the substance to conduct electricity may be altered by stretching, a property which could be useful to electrical engineers and developers.
Carbyne was first studied in computer simulations before being produced in small quantities. Until now, the longest chains of carbyne ever produced only stretched 44 atoms in length. The newly-developed process was able to create strings as long as 6,400 atoms.
Elemental carbon exists in several forms, including graphite, diamonds, and graphene. Each of these had been artificially produced in the past, with the exception of long carbyne chains. Because these threads are composed of just single atoms linked together, some researchers refer to chains of carbyne as a one-dimension material.
Researchers created a narrow, double-walled tube from a pair of graphene sheets. A carbyne thread was then grown between the sheets, which served as a mold to form and hold the fragile structures. Despite the fact that these are, by far, the longest carbyne threads ever produced, they are still far too small to be seen by the unaided human eye.
"Carbyne has mechanical properties that are unmatched by any known material, as it even outperforms the mechanical resistance and flexibility properties of graphene and diamond. Furthermore, its electronic properties are pointing towards new nano-electronic applications, such as in the development of new magnetic semiconductors, high power density batteries, or in quantum spin transport electronics (spintronics)," researchers from the University of the Basque Country stated in a press release.
Before these carbyne threads may be employed within real-world applications, developers will need to learn how to unwrap the chains from their graphene housing. The long strings would then, likely, need to be suspended within a liquid matrix.
Development of techniques to produce carbyne en masse was detailed in the journal Nature Materials.
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