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Carbyne: a Form of Carbon Even Stronger Than Graphene

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the does-graphene-even-lift? dept.

Science 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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When do I get my exoskeleton? (4, Funny)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#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 )?

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588195)

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

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (4, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | about a year ago | (#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...

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#44588665)

You could BUY carbon?
We had to set fire to the school so all the kids could have something to write with.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592441)

What do you mean "had to"?

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44592891)

If you don't obey the voices your dog will die.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (2)

strack (1051390) | about a year ago | (#44589199)

welcome to science journalism. so many wonderful promises, unfufilled

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

haruchai (17472) | about a year ago | (#44589393)

I guess it's hard to say when a breakthrough will happen. Progress tends to be very incremental. When I was much younger, I was promised that flying cars, flat screen TVs you could hang like a painting and fusion would be "a few years" at most.

Took over 30 yrs just for the TVs, fusion, er, well, "somewhat more than a few years" and counting and the flying cars, well, I suppose we could make them happen very soon if you've got megabucks to spend.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

EdZ (755139) | about a year ago | (#44589257)

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.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44590465)

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.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592375)

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

The first target group will likely be developers, not mindless consumers.
Slashdot is probably not the page you are looking for if you want things that you can get delivered within a week.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592825)

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

You can find buckyballs in candle soot, but that doesn't mean you can find anything useful to do with them.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44592991)

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 + Government + Private Enterprise combined makes new advances. Right now we are blaming our problems on these portions making it difficult for them to help with innovation.

Higher Ed comes with the early theory's, government pays higher Ed to do further research, private enterprise uses these results to make a product which government and private sectors buy, allowing private enterprise to improve their process, which could bring to new discoveries that Higher Ed to analysis and process and make new theories.

Re:When do I get my exoskeleton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44600481)

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

Put sliced bread in the toaster for long enough and you'll get some exotic forms of carbon at a reasonable price!

Carbyne != Carbine (0)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#44588187)

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.

Re:Carbyne != Carbine (1)

qwijibo (101731) | about a year ago | (#44588325)

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. (4, Informative)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44588531)

Because it's an alkyne [wikipedia.org] 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. [wikipedia.org] Then again, that didn't seem to stop them here either. [wikipedia.org] The better name for this material is linear acetylenic carbon. [wikipedia.org] Sadly, I don't remember enough organic chemistry to know what the double/double would be called.

Re:It's an alkyne. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44588571)

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.

Re:It's an alkyne. (1)

cyclopropene (777291) | about a year ago | (#44588851)

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... :)

Gah, how do I link web? (2)

Valdrax (32670) | about a year ago | (#44588593)

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

Question (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#44595207)

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*?

Re:Carbyne != Carbine (1)

reverseengineer (580922) | about a year ago | (#44588769)

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 versions of this molecular chain, which terminate with a hydrogen on each end are generally called polyacetylenes or polyynes.

Re:Carbyne != Carbine (2)

reverseengineer (580922) | about a year ago | (#44588845)

From the non-chemistry side of the etymology, it is apparently not known with certainty why a short rifle is called a carbine [etymonline.com] 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) "carrion beetle," said to have been an epithet for archers from Flanders.

Re: Carbyne != Carbine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44590517)

because "carbean" would have pissed off the auto clubs and the farmers. and those crowds use real guns, not those crappy carbines

Re:Carbyne != Carbine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44595461)

Never heard of homophones ?!

The real crown... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588203)

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

Re:The real crown... (1)

cyclopropene (777291) | about a year ago | (#44588875)

...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!

But its not... (3, Funny)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | about a year ago | (#44588227)

Transparent Aluminum, I'm still waiting....

Re:But its not... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588321)

wait no longer..
http://makezine.com/2012/01/17/transparent-aluminum/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnUszxx2pYc

Re:But its not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589445)

A form of transparent aluminium (oxide) is used for ages on wrist watches...

Re:But its not... (4, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#44591097)

Oh you silly 7-digit UID holder. You know what we call transparent aluminum?

Sapphire. Been known as that for a couple centuries.

Space Elevator (4, Interesting)

Ben C. (2950903) | about a year ago | (#44588269)

Is it space elevator time yet?

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588383)

I'm no engineer, but I would imagine that if carbyne* can't be stretched as the summary says, that would make it a poor choice for a tether hundreds of miles long.

*Really? Someone thought that was a good name?

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588749)

I'm no engineer...

You should have stopped typing there. A space elevator need not stretch, and even if it did it's trivial (compared to building one in the first place) to make something that can lengthen without the constituent parts doing so. Didn't you ever see the antenna on a portable radio?

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588899)

A space elevator need not stretch

Why not? Even a bridge needs to have a degree of elasticity, lest it be shaken apart.

Didn't you ever see the antenna on a portable radio?

Those antennas are collapsible as a space-saving measure, not for structural reasons.

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589215)

A space elevator need not stretch

Why not? Even a bridge needs to have a degree of elasticity, lest it be shaken apart.

A bridge is fixed at both ends.

Didn't you ever see the antenna on a portable radio?

Those antennas are collapsible as a space-saving measure, not for structural reasons.

True, but my point was that you can make a structure that can stretch without needing to use materials that stretch significantly.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589479)

But you're not describing a structure that stretches; you're describing one that telescopes. Not the same thing.

And while a space elevator won't be fixed at both ends the way a bridge is, it's still going to be subject to outside forces acting on it (high-speed winds in the upper atmospheres, for example). If the bridge parallel bothers you, consider a skyscraper instead - and skyscrapers also need to be elastic enough to sway a little bit.

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589779)

But you're not describing a structure that stretches; you're describing one that telescopes.

The distinction eludes me. At the micrometer scale this is pretty much how metals "stretch".

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44590367)

At the micrometer scale this has absolutly nothing to do with how metals stretch. Metals stretch because they are ductile.. the atoms rearrange themselves. Also, something that telescopes is not elastic. There is no restoring force that is proportional to the deformation. That makes it about useless structurally.

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589535)

Concrete and steel are both elastic materials, at least that is the region under which designs are usually based. Though the elasticity is on the order of 29,000 ksi for steel and 4-10 ksi (under compression) for ordinary concrete.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

fisted (2295862) | about a year ago | (#44590537)

> A bridge is fixed at both ends.
Wrong. Learn2bridges.

Re: Space Elevator (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44591347)

I highly doubt we'll ever be able to make strands of this stuff several thousands of km long, so shorter strands will have to be combined. The epoxy or whatever is used to hold them together will undoubtedly have some stretch.

Also, carbon bonds may not be particularly stretchy, but over that kind of length even a tiny amount will add up to a decent distance. If that's not enough, use the helical form.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a year ago | (#44592533)

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

Re:Space Elevator (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | about a year ago | (#44592771)

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 much isolated systems. It's only the speed of the degradation you can influence. But rule was, whatever you do, after about three years you'd take a massive hit to the capacity of LiIon batteries.

Re:Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592835)

So,
"Don't cross the streams.... that would be bad"

Re:Space Elevator (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | about a year ago | (#44588489)

We're still on simulated space elevators.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about a year ago | (#44588519)

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.

A bit too advanced, perhaps (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44588883)

But... how about that flying car?

Re:A bit too advanced, perhaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589187)

http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/08/01/terrafugia-transition-flying-car-makes-first-public-flight/ Fox News, of all places.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

EdZ (755139) | about a year ago | (#44589311)

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 in bulk (e.g. Spectra and other tensile Aramids).

Then there are just fun things you can do, like conductive tether generators and propulsion inside a magnetosphere, or linear tether launchers.

Raw Tensile Strength Is Now High Enough (1)

Scotland (3022857) | about a year ago | (#44593907)

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: 4.9x10^7 N*m/kg.

This jives with what the 10x10^7 N*m/kg quoted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator [wikipedia.org] (referencing: Edwards, Bradley Carl. The NIAC Space Elevator Program. NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts). This would make perfect sense that he is assuming a safety factor of 2 (safety margin of 100%)

So, assuming that the nano-scale cross-linking issues mentioned previously in this thread do not reduce the tensile strength too much, and assuming we're okay with a safety factor of only 1.5 (50% safety margin), then we're finally in the ballpark with Carbyne having a material stiffness of about 7.5x10^7 N*m/kg.

We have the material; we can build it. So now, it's no longer a question of can the physics work, but rather a question of the political and business will to put in the engineering work to make this a reality.

Very, very cool.

Re:Raw Tensile Strength Is Now High Enough (1)

slothman32 (629113) | about a year ago | (#44594815)

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?

Five tennis courts (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about a year ago | (#44588313)

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

Re:Five tennis courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589895)

African or European?

Re:Five tennis courts (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about a year ago | (#44590089)

If I had even a single moderator point, I swear it would be yours.

Re:Five tennis courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592395)

From the submitters name I would say a European story.

Re:Five tennis courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44595607)

Just FYI, Africa (the continent black people come from) doesn't produce cars. African countries recycle used European cars.

Re:Five tennis courts (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year ago | (#44591433)

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

Re:Five tennis courts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592423)

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..

Panies (0)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#44588431)

Can they make panties out of this stuff? Then, maybe, the panties of Hollywood stars won't disintegrate, leaving them exposed to the paparazzi. it's been a serious problem for them.

Re:Panies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44588715)

That's the problem with panties made of air, they tend to disappear at the worst possible moment.

Luckily, we have a new organic material called "Cotton" which they can make panties out of that will not expose their lady bits to sudden visibility. My understanding from most women is that they find this material both comfortable and hygienic, although it does lack the ability to evaporate if that is desired. For that, there are options that are almost as good as air, particularly when there is ready assistance from a nearby male.

Re:Panies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44589469)

That's the problem with panties made of air, they tend to disappear at the worst possible moment.

Luckily, we have a new organic material called "Cotton" which they can make panties out of that will not expose their lady bits to sudden visibility. My understanding from most women is that they find this material both comfortable and hygienic, although it does lack the ability to evaporate if that is desired. For that, there are options that are almost as good as air, particularly when there is ready assistance from a nearby male.

What's more, cotton has a surface area that is relatively massive. A single gram of cotton, for example, has a surface area of about three tennis courts. That's enough for 400 pairs of shorts for Maria Sharapova, assuming she doesn't let herself go...

It doesn't steal the crown... (3, Funny)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44588597)

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

I'm holding out for carbonite.

Bending IS Stretching (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44590283)

Ok so forgive me if I'm being obtuse here, but how is it possible for something bend without stretching? A curved object is not the same as a bent one- when you bend a pole, for example, one side compresses while the other stretches... as opposed to a curved object which is of uniform density throughout.
Am I missing something, or is this another case of journalists not having even a basic grasp of physics?

Re:Bending IS Stretching (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a year ago | (#44591115)

In a single-atom thick layer, which 'side' stretches?

There's your answer. Back to school with ye.

Re: Bending IS Stretching (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44591353)

Atoms have thickness, but bonds are essentially one dimensional.

Re:Bending IS Stretching (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44592955)

You got to think 2 dimensionally! Think of having a bunch of sphere magnets, you clip them into a 1 magnet high sheet. Now you can bend the sheet of magnets without stretching them they just roll on each other. You pole is more 3 dimension so you have rows and rows of these things so the upper part will stretch assuming that its bonds are equal on all dimensions.

A mythical compound (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44590321)

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.

i'm pretty sure it can be stretched. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44590453)

if you can bend it in a circle and the outer circumference doesn't become greater than the inner surface, i want to talk to you about the new laws of physics and math you just discovered.

one atom thick, is there inner surface & outer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44590683)

Normally, one could measure the inner surface and the outer and compare. You could use any unit of measurement you wanted, such as "atom lengths". For example, you could say that the inner surface is a million atoms long and the outer surface is a 1.03 million.

This stuff is one atom thick. In this case, the atoms that make up the inner surface are SAME ATOMS as the outer surface. The inside and the outside are the same side! So of course they are the same length, since they are the same atoms.

In t

Re:one atom thick, is there inner surface & ou (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592269)

the line can for a curve though, and the inner would be shorter than the outer by something involving a summation of atomic diameters.

Just another modeling result (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44591773)

that will have no relevance to our daily reality for at least 5 decades, if ever. Jeez, there's been modeling that predicts allotropes of BN that beat diamond and graphene in strength for at least 15 years. Still can't buy the stuff. Whatever...wake me when I can buy a product.

Methylene (1)

Cow007 (735705) | about a year ago | (#44592459)

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

Re:Methylene (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44593133)

That is methylamine (CH3NH2), not methylene (-CH2-).

Re:Methylene (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44595527)

Get your chemicals right, this is ridiculous !

Steals the crown? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44592461)

Surely the fact that graphene is very easily manufactured and has many obvious uses makes it a much more useful material? Just because titanium is stronger than aluminium doesn't mean we make everything out of titanium...

Stability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44593449)

I may be remembering this wrong but aren't alkene and alkyne bonds less stable than regular single bonds?

They are stronger in the sense that they pull the C atoms together stronger, but from what I remember they are also much more reactive than a single bond and will tend to split and latch onto something else relatively readily...

Area of five tennis courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44593637)

"A single gram of graphene, for example, has a surface area of about five tennis courts. "

For those of you unfamiliar with the tenetrian sytem of measurement:

1 tennis court (singles match) = 1 TCs = 2,106 sq. ft. = 196 sq. meters (approx)
1 tennis court (doubles match) = 1 TCd = 2,808 sq. ft. = 261 sq. meters (approx)

so 5 TC is either 980 or 1,305 sq. meters depending, or a square about 33 meters on each side.

Jesus H. Christ! Just use the metric system already!

Tent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44595479)

Please somebody start a kickstarter for a 2 person carbyne tent that fits in my wallet !

Sadly it's currently purely hypothetical... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44602147)

...and probably highly explosive.

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2010/November/CarbyneOtherMythsAboutCarbon.asp

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