World's Strongest Material: Carbyne, Supermaterial That Beats Out Graphene And Diamond

The world’s strongest molecule is carbyne which is twice as strong as graphene and diamond

A paper on Arxiv presents a detailed look at the properties of Carbyne, a supermaterial that is stronger than graphene and diamond, and that can be synthesized and stabilized at room temperature, even stronger and stiffer than both of them. It could potentially have a wide variety of applications in nanomechanical systems and electromechanical devices.

The paper, Mingjie Liu, Vasilii I. Artyukhov, Hoonkyung Lee, Fangbo Xu, and Boris I. Yakobson, from Rice University, in Houston, from the departments of mechanical engineering and materials science, chemistry, and the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, described the supermaterial as a chain of carbon atoms linked by alternative triple and single bonds or by consecutive double bonds, is actually twice as strong as graphene, and exhibits unusual characteristics that make it appealing for a wide range of uses.

They have calculated and written down Carbyne’s physical and chemical properties – mechanical response to tension, bending, torsion deformations and atomic structure. The research show that, in order to break a single atomic chain within the material’s molecular structure, a force of approximately 10 nN (nanonewtons)- a strength which surpasses that of any other known material. It’s torsional stiffness can be zero but can be ‘switched on’ by appropriate functional groups at the ends, according to the paper.

Carbyne under tension. (a) DFT calculations of energy as a function of strain ɛ. The electronic density of carbyne (polyyne) (b) in equilibrium and (c) under tension shows a more pronounced bond alternation in strained carbyne. (d) Bond length alternation and (e) band gap increase as a function of strain.

A combination of unusual mechanical and electronic properties, they said, is of great interest for applications in nanomechanical systems, opto-/electromechanical devices, strong and light materials for mechanical applications, or as high–specific-area energy storage matrices.

Carbyne could have an impressively wide application. Carbyne and Carbyne-based nano-structures could revolutionize nanotechnology and could be used in nanomechnical systems (nanocoatings, composites, nanotubes, etc) and opto-electromechanical devices (microlenses, sensors) as an incredibly strong and lightweight material. It could also be used to store hydrogen and to make higher density batteries.

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Write by: RC - Friday, August 23, 2013

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