Ultra-long, one-dimensional carbon chains are synthesised for the first time
Researchers involved in an international study, in which the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has participated, have stabilised chains of more than 6,400 carbon atoms using double-walled nanotubes.
In a study, in which researchers in the UPV/EHU’s Nano-Bio Spectroscopy Group led by Ángel Rubio have participated, a new route has been developed to produce carbyne (infinitely long carbon chains whose mechanical properties surpass those of diamond and graphene) by using double-walled carbon nanotubes to protect the carbon chain due to its extreme instability in ambient conditions. The results of the study have been published in the journal Nature Materials.
Elemental carbon appears in many different forms, some of which are very well-known and have been thoroughly studied: diamond, graphite, graphene, fullerenes, nanotubes and carbyne. Within this “carbon family”, carbyne (a truly one-dimensional carbon structure) is the only one that has not been synthesised until now, despite having been studied for more than 50 years. Organic chemists across the world had been trying to synthesise increasingly longer carbyne chains by using stabilizing agents; the longest chain obtained so far (achieved in 2010) was 44 carbon atoms.
A research group at the University of Vienna, led by Prof Thomas Pichler, has presented a new, simple means for stabilising carbon chains with a record-breaking length of over 6,400 carbon atoms. They have thus broken the previous record by more than two orders of magnitude. To do this, they used the confined space inside a double-walled carbon nanotube as a nano-reactor to make the ultra-long carbon chains grow and also to provide the chains with great stability. This stability is tremendously important for future applications.