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US scientists finally create the next generation wonder material ‘graphyne’

Scientists have been attempting to synthesise a novel type of carbon called graphyne for over a decade and the University of Colorado Boulder researchers have finally succeeded in producing the elusive carbon allotrope. This study closes a long-standing gap in carbon material science and offers up entirely new avenues for research in electronics, optics, and semiconductors.

The researchers reported their findings in Nature Synthesis under the heading ‘Synthesis of ?-graphyne using dynamic covalent chemistry’.

Due to the obvious element’s flexibility and usefulness in numerous sectors, scientists have long been interested in the synthesis of distinct carbon allotropes (forms). Carbon allotropes may be built in a variety of ways, depending on how carbon hybrids and their associated bonds are used. Graphite, which is used in pencils, and diamonds are two of the most well-known allotropes. They’re made of ‘sp2’ carbon and ‘sp3’ carbon, respectively.

Over the years, scientists have employed traditional methods to generate a variety of allotropes, including fullerene and graphene. In 1996 and 2010, researchers working on these materials were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Unfortunately, these approaches do not allow for the large-scale synthesis of distinct forms of carbon, which is essential for the production of graphene. Due to this stumbling block, graphyne remained a theoretical substance with unknown electrical, mechanical, and optical characteristics.

Researchers in the area approached Wei Zhang, the research article’s co-author, and his lab group. Zhang is a chemistry professor at CU Boulder who specialises in reversible chemistry. Reversible chemistry allows bonds to self-correct, allowing new types of ‘lattices’ (ordered structures) to be created, such as synthetic polymers that imitate DNA.

The researchers employed an alkyne metathesis method, as well as thermodynamics and kinetic control, to build a new type of material with conductivity comparable to graphene but with more control. Alkyne Metathesis is an organic process in which alkyne chemical bonds are redistributed (cutting and forming). Alkynes are hydrocarbons having at least one triple covalent link between carbon and carbon.

However, the team has to look into a lot more specifics, such as how to make it on a wide scale and how to alter it for various use cases. These efforts will aid in the understanding of the material’s electrical and optical characteristics, allowing it to be utilised in lithium-ion battery applications.


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