Carbyne is a chain of carbon atoms held together by either double or alternating single and triple atomic bonds. That makes it a true one-dimensional material, unlike atom-thin sheets of graphene, which have a top and a bottom, or hollow nanotubes, which have an inside and outside.
According to calculations by theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his group:
•Carbyne’s tensile strength — the ability to withstand stretching — surpasses “that of any other known material” and is double that of graphene. (Scientists have calculated it would take an elephant on a pencil to break through a sheet of graphene.)
•It has twice the tensile stiffness of graphene and carbon nanotubes and nearly three times that of diamond.
•Stretching carbyne as little as 10 percent alters its electronic band gap significantly.
•If outfitted with molecular handles at the ends, it can also be twisted to alter its band gap. With a 90-degree end-to-end rotation, it becomes 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.
“You could look at it as an ultimately thin graphene ribbon, reduced to just one atom, or an ultimately thin nanotube,” Yakobson said.. It could be useful for nanomechanical systems, in spintronic devices, as sensors, as strong and light materials for mechanical applications, or for energy storage.