Forget graphene and diamonds: scientists find new supermaterial

Researchers from Rice University in Houston, Texas, have discovered a new carbon supermaterial that is stronger and stiffer than graphene and diamonds: carbyne.

The new material it’s a chain of carbon atoms linked either by alternate triple and single bonds, or just by consecutive double bonds. And it’s quite something.

Based on the scientists’ mathematical models, carbyne not only is stronger than both graphene and diamond, but also it’s around twice as stiff as the stiffest known materials. It’s also fairly flexible — somewhere between a typical polymer and double-stranded DNA. And when twisted, it can either rotate freely or become remain stiff depending on the chemical group attached to its end.

The truth is that carbyne has been around for a while, but this is the first time academics have theorized its properties when exposed to tension, bending and twisting.

If carbyne’s predicted properties can actually put to use, graphene — the strongest material in existence—may just have had its day.

Image from Wikimedia Commons