Laser-Melted Graphite Leads to Linear Chains of Carbon Atoms

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore have discovered a way to generate linear chains of carbon atoms from laser-melted graphite. The material, known as carbyne, has many properties, including the capability of adjusting the amount of electrical current traveling through a circuit.

“Its linear shape gives it unique electrical properties that are sensitive to stretching and bending, and it is 40 times stiffer than diamond. It also was found in the Murchison and Allende meteorites and could be an ingredient of interstellar dust,” said.

According to, scientist Nir Goldman and his colleague Christopher Cannella used computer simulations to study the properties of liquid carbon as it evaporated, after being formed by a laser beam on the surface of graphite. As the liquid droplet evaporated, it formed linear chains of carbon atoms.

“If you regulate carbyne synthesis in a controlled way, it could have applications as a new material for a number of different research areas, including as a tunable semiconductor or even for hydrogen storage,” Goldman said.

Their method shows that carbyne can be easily generated in the laboratory. It can also be found in astrophysical bodies or in the interstellar medium.

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