A few month ago we reported on Carbyne, a chain of carbon atoms linked either by alternate triple and single bonds or by consecutive double bonds, which was found to be twice as strong as graphene. Carbyne is difficult to synthesize (it does not exist in nature, but it may exist in interstellar space) but a few years ago researchers managed to make carbyne chains up to 44 atoms long in solution.

Now researchers from Rice University have performed more theoretical calculations on this new material. They say that a Carbyne nano-rod (also called nano-ropes) is pretty much like a very thin (one-atom wide) graphene ribbon. When you twist this nano-rod, you change the band gap of the material.

The researchers also came up with the following Carbyne properties:

  • Carbyne’s tensile strength (the ability to withstand stretching) surpasses that of any other materials, it's about double that of graphene. This was known before but confirmed again in this research.
  • Carbyne has twice the tensile stiffness of graphene and CNTs and nearly three times that of diamond.
  • Stretching carbyne as little as 10% alters its electronic band gap significantly.
  • If you twist this material, you also alter the band gap. A 90-degrees end-to-end rotation will make it a magnetic semiconductor.
  • Carbyne chains can take on side molecules that may make the chains suitable for energy storage.
  • The material is stable at room temperature, largely resisting crosslinks with nearby chains.