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Summary:

New calculations document some of the one-atom-thick carbon form’s unusual properties. But while scientists have synthesized single strands of carbyne, they haven’t figured out how to make it into a sheet of material.

Graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, has been the recent wunderkind of the material science world. It is the strongest material in existence and an amazing conductor of electricity and heat.

A recent paper preprint out of Rice University documents another form of carbon that could have even more impressive properties: carbyne. The pearl-like strings of single carbon atoms are theorized to be stronger than graphene, carbon nanotubes and diamonds. It’s been said that it would take an elephant balanced on a pencil to break through a sheet of graphene, so that’s pretty strong.

Carbyne has been known for decades, but this is the first time researchers have theorized a group of its properties when it is exposed to tension, bending and twisting, which help it take on its special properties. It is still theoretical because though scientists have succeeded at synthesizing short, single strands of carbyne, they haven’t been able to combine the strands to make a sheet of material. It’s suspected that if they did, the strands would explode.

That’s a shame, because it has some appealing features. The researchers theorize there could be a way around the explosion problem that allows carbyne to be stable at room temperature for several days. That means it could eventually be eligible for use in electronics. It is also twice as stiff as graphene but still able to bend.

Since graphene was first synthesized in the early 2000s, research has exploded. Considering scientists have already synthesized a single strand of carbyne, more serious advances could be coming soon.

  1. Not to be nit-picky, but I’ve seen the error repeatedly here: it’s ‘materials science’ with an ‘s’. Love that GOm is reporting on the hard sciences…a pleasure to read!

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  2. Use in electronics……of all the use that’s all you could think off? How about something bigger like car bodies or crash resistant aeroplanes? Keep the iPhone down fr a while…..

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    1. How about roads? =)

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  3. surlycurmudgen Monday, October 14, 2013

    Bullet proof clothing, If it is transparent a cape covering head to feet bullet proof, Use several layers as tank armor, eliminate the current armor and build the tank much lighter in weight, use to armor a space vehicle, is it impermeable enough to hold hydrogen?breathable air? natural gas? Could Bucky balls or colossal tubes be used as attachment points? carbyne fiber belted tires instead of steel belted, synthetic fiber rope with the synthetic impregnated with carbyne fiber,

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