Scientists from the University of Vienna have created carbyne, a material with properties that surpasses all known materials, including diamond and graphene. It has electrical properties and contains carbon chains with a record length of 6,000 carbon atoms, making it stable enough for many applications.

Since carbyne is a very stable material, the research team suggests that it can have many uses such as creating other materials and even devices. Its electrical properties may be employed for nanoelectronic use in magnetic semiconductors and quantum spin transport.

Carbyne has been suggested before by the Nobel laureate for contributions in organic chemistry, Adolf von Baeyer in 1885. However, creating this in the past was a complicated process because carbon chains of increasing length are highly reactive, easily destroying the material.


Carbyne is stronger and harder than any other known material, including diamond. Photo from Pixabay/thefss

Nevertheless, scientists were able to create carbon chains of around 100 carbon atoms in 2003. Now, the researchers have finally broken this record during their study that has been presented online on April 4 in the journal Nature Materials.

The researchers laid two sheets of graphene on top of each other and rolled it into a double-walled carbon nanotube.

The research team confirmed the carbon chain growth through the use of x-ray, the presence of the carbyne inside the nanotubes through a high-resolution transmission electron spectroscopy and its electronic and vibration properties through far-field Raman spectroscopy that has different lasers.

“The direct experimental proof of confined ultra-long linear carbon chains, which are more than an order of magnitude longer than the longest proven chains so far, can be seen as a promising step towards the final goal of unravelling the “holy grail” of carbon allotropes, carbyne,” says the study’s lead author Lei Shi.

Other researchers include Lukas Novotny from ETH Zürich in Switzerland, the research group from UPV/EHU San Sebastian in Spain, Angel Rubio from the MPI, Hamburg in Germany and Kazu Suenaga from AIST Tsukuba in Japan.