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Carbyne: a Form of Carbon Even Stronger Than Graphene 82

New submitter Dialecticus writes "Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech has written an article about research into the physical properties of carbyne, an elusive form of carbon. A new mathematical analysis by Mingjie Liu and others at Rice University suggests that carbyne may achieve double the strength of graphene, stealing its crown and becoming the strongest material known to man. 'While carbyne cannot be stretched, it can be bent into an arc or circle — and by doing so, the additional strain between the carbon atoms alters the electrical bandgap. This property could lead to some interesting uses in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). By adding different molecules to the end of a carbyne chain, such as a methylene (CH2) group, carbyne can also be twisted — much like a strand of DNA — again adding strain and modifying the electrical bandgap. By "decorating" carbyne chains with different molecules, other properties can be added, too: Tack some calcium atoms on the end, which like to mop up spare hydrogen molecules, and suddenly you have a high-density, reversible hydrogen storage sponge. It’s also important to note that, just like graphene, carbyne is just one atom thick. This means that, for a given mass of carbyne, its surface area is relatively massive. A single gram of graphene, for example, has a surface area of about five tennis courts. This could be very important in areas such as energy storage (batteries, supercapacitors), where the surface area of the electrode is directly proportional to the energy density of the device.'"
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Carbyne: a Form of Carbon Even Stronger Than Graphene

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  • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:17PM (#44588153)

    Been hearing so many wonderful things about exotic forms of carbon but when do I get something I can buy ( at a reasonable price )?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When it can be made cheaply in bulk, that's the problem.

    • by NEDHead ( 1651195 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:49PM (#44588513)

      When I was a kid, I used to buy a sophisticated carbon product for data recording. At the time a pencil was two cents...

    • by strack ( 1051390 )
      welcome to science journalism. so many wonderful promises, unfufilled
    • by EdZ ( 755139 )
      You get your exoskeleton as soon as battery density increases, or generator+turbine volume decreases. If you;re happy with a tether, the XOS2 (and countless other research devices) work just fine right now.
    • Been hearing so many wonderful things about exotic forms of carbon but when do I get something I can buy ( at a reasonable price )?

      Like a trip to the moon. They should use this stuff for the space elevator.

    • Well, there is a lot of issues here.
      1. Nano-technology needs a lot of money for research and development. Most companies do not want to fund in R&D as they cannot quantify the value.
      2. Governments are trying to show that they are responsible with money so they are not funding R&D because they will get on some media expose on how they are wasting their money playing with pencil lead and scotch tape.
      3. Colleges are getting tight on R&D because there is pressure to cut college costs down.

      Higher Ed

  • FTA: "A new form of carbon, dubbed carbyne"

    Is there a technical reason as to why it was named so similarly to a type of firearm? Just wondering.

    • by qwijibo ( 101731 )

      Gun nuts can be scientists too. Or scientists are so myopic that they didn't know that was already a word. Could go either way, but it's cool to see new things like this still being discovered.

    • It's an alkyne. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:51PM (#44588531)

      Because it's an alkyne [] of pure carbon. At least, the single/triple alternating version is.

      The double/double form could be named carbene except that that name is already taken. [] Then again, that didn't seem to stop them here either. [] The better name for this material is linear acetylenic carbon. [] Sadly, I don't remember enough organic chemistry to know what the double/double would be called.

      • by Valdrax ( 32670 )

        Sadly, I don't remember enough organic chemistry to know what the double/double would be called.

        Here's an article on cumulenes, but I don't know what a the proper name of a long chain of it would be.

        • Sadly, I don't remember enough organic chemistry to know what the double/double would be called.

          Here's an article on cumulenes, but I don't know what a the proper name of a long chain of it would be.

          The proper name is cumulene. In fact, that's pretty clear from the first line of the Wikipedia article you tried to link:

          A cumulene is a hydrocarbon with three or more cumulative (consecutive) double bonds.

          Emphasis mine.

          One of those days... :)

      • Sorry, here's [] that article on cumulenes.
        (Stupid Slashdot posting delay... *grumble grumble*)

      • Acetylene features the single & triple carbon bonds. It burns so hot because these bonds are inherently unstable. So how is it that this new substance, with these more-unstable-than-normal-carbon bonds, supposedly *stronger*?
    • The -yne ending is already in common use for carbon compounds with a triple bond. For example, ethyne (the IUPAC systematic name for acetylene). It's not a very good name in this case though- "carbyne" already refers to a type of reactive species of carbon with three unpaired electrons, in analogy to the more common "carbene" which has two unpaired electrons. Wikipedia suggests a better name for the carbon chain to be "linear acetylenic carbon," though I'll admit it doesn't roll off the tongue. Shorter vers

      • From the non-chemistry side of the etymology, it is apparently not known with certainty why a short rifle is called a carbine [] in the first place:

        short rifle, 1580s, from French carabine (Middle French carabin), used of light horsemen and also of the weapon they carried, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Medieval Latin Calabrinus "Calabrian" (i.e., "rifle made in Calabria"). A less-likely theory (Gamillscheg, etc.) connects it to Old French escarrabin "corpse-bearer during the plague," literally (probably) "

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...will go to whichever material can be put to practical use outside of the research lab.

    • ...will go to whichever material can be put to practical use outside of the research lab.

      I'd give some cheers if they could even find impractical use outside of a silicon chip!

  • by who_stole_my_kidneys ( 1956012 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:24PM (#44588227)
    Transparent Aluminum, I'm still waiting....
  • Space Elevator (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ben C. ( 2950903 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:29PM (#44588269)
    Is it space elevator time yet?
      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        So sandwich or encase the Carbyne molecules, am I missing something here?

        • Instability in organic molecules does not neccessarily mean that it reacts with gasses in the air (namely oxygen).

          It usually means that there's a more stable form it will inevitably convert to. There are countless conversion reactions in organic molecules - exposure to heat, air or light usually only fastens the process. Preventing exposure to these factors does not stop the degradation, however.

          Take batteries as an example. LiIon batteries will degrade regardless of outside factors - and those are pretty m

    • We're still on simulated space elevators.

    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )
      What I gather from the article is that it has impact strength but not much in the way of tensile strength. It appears to have a few other interesting properties though.
    • But... how about that flying car?
    • by EdZ ( 755139 )
      An straight-up Space Elevator is still way beyond us, even if we could pump out molecularly perfect nanotubes of indefinite length. But smaller tether systems are totally possible; 'stationary' and hypersonic Bolos and Skyhooks, depending on the orbital velocity and tip velocity (itself depending on tether length and rotation rate). You don't need a massive anchor site, you could fly some of the smaller ones in a single launch, and we could make some of the smaller ones with materials we already manufacture
    • As a mechanical engineer, I have only ever needed integral calculus outside of school work (including tutoring) three times:
      1. With a friend, for fun, to win a bet. Yay, free beer!
      2. To answer a particular question for work. Yay, happy boss!
      3. Just now, for fun, to determine the required material stiffness for a cable hanging down from geostationary orbit (i.e. a space elevator cable) to support its own weight. Yay, Science!

      Calculated minimum required material stiffness for space elevator cable: 4.9x

      • You only use calculus rarely!
        Right now I am using it to have compare 2p and 3s orbitals.
        I get calculus and quantum mech at the same time - wohoo.

        Math and science in general are fun and I do them recreationally all the time.

        Some people watch sports, I multiply polynomials.

        Are you related to the country of Scotland?
        If so then what are your thoughts on the referendum about countyhood next year?

  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:33PM (#44588313)

    ...How much is that in Volkswagens per story?

    • That depends entirely on the current conversion rate between Volkswagens and Libraries of Congress, of course.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What is the surface area of a tennis court anyway?

      Since they have that funky material on the ground with all those cracks for grip..

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Friday August 16, 2013 @05:58PM (#44588597)

    It doesn't steal the crown... ...until we can freeze Han Solo in it.

    I'm holding out for carbonite.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps a little more emphasis should be given to the fact that the compound in question has never been synthesized, despite decades of effort. And that one strand would combine explosively with a second, if two such strands could be made.

  • Methylene! If they can get their hands on it that is I guess they will probably be stuck a 30 gallon drum or stopping a train, killing anyone who happens by Sorry I just couldn't resist #breakingbad

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.