The crystal structure of the decanter layer. Credit: Yiming Hu

For more than a decade, scientists have tried with limited success to synthesize a new form of carbon called decanter. However, this quest is over, thanks to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder.


Carafe has long been of interest to scientists because of its resemblance to the “excellent material” graphene – another form of carbon that is highly valued by the industry, whose research was even awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. However, despite decades of work and theorizing, only a few fragments have been created so far.

This is a study announced last week in Synthesis of naturefills a long-standing gap in carbon materials science, potentially opening up entirely new opportunities for research in electronics, optics and semiconductor materials.

“The whole audience, the whole field, is very excited that this long-standing problem, or this imaginary material, is finally being realized,” said Yiming Hu, lead author and postgraduate doctor of chemistry in 2022.

Scientists have long been interested in creating new or new carbon allotropes, or forms of carbon, because of the usefulness of carbon to industry as well as its versatility.

There are different ways of constructing carbon allotropes depending on how sp2, sp3 and sp hybridized carbon (or different ways of binding carbon atoms to other elements) are used and their respective connections. The most well-known carbon allotropes are graphite (used in tools such as pencils and batteries) and diamonds, which are made from carbon sp2 and carbon sp3, respectively.

Using traditional methods of chemistry, scientists have for many years successfully created various allotropes, including fullerenes (whose discovery won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996) and graphene.

However, these methods do not allow the synthesis of different types of carbon together in any large capacity, as required for the decanter that left the theorized material – it is assumed that it has unique electrically conductive, mechanical and optical properties – to remain so: theory.

But it was also the need for the unconventional that prompted those in the field to turn to Wei Zhang’s lab team.

Zhang, a professor of chemistry at CU Boulder, is studying reversible chemistry, which is chemistry that allows bonds to self-correct, allowing you to create new ordered structures or lattices, such as synthetic DNA-like polymers.

After he was approached, Zhang and his lab team decided to give it a try.

Creating a decanter is a “really old, long-standing issue, but because synthetic tools have been limited, interest has declined,” said Hu, Ph.D. Zhang laboratory group student, commented. “We rediscovered the problem and used a new tool to solve an old problem that is really important.”

Using a process called metathesis of alkynes, which is an organic reaction that involves redistribution or cutting and reforming of alkyne chemical bonds (such as hydrocarbons with at least one carbon-carbon triple covalent bond) – as well as thermodynamics and kinetic control, the group was able to successfully create something that had never been created before: a material that could compete with the conductivity of graphene, but with control.

“There’s a pretty big difference (between graphene and decanter), but in a good way,” Zhang said. “It could be the next generation’s miraculous stuff. That’s why people are so excited.”

Although the material has been successfully created, the team still wants to understand its details, including how to create material on a large scale and how it can be manipulated.

“We are really trying to study this new material from different dimensions, both experimentally and theoretically, from the atomic level to real devices,” Zhang said of the next steps.

These efforts, in turn, should help figure out how the material conducts the electron and optical properties can be used for industry applications such as lithium-ion batteries.

“We hope that in the future we will be able to reduce costs and simplify the response procedure, and then hopefully people will really benefit from our research,” Hu said.

For Zhang, this could never have been achieved without the support of an interdisciplinary team, adding: “Without the support of the physics faculty, without some support from colleagues, this work probably could not be done.”


Synthesis of two-dimensional perforated decanter


Additional information:
Yiming Hu et al., Synthesis of γ-decanter using dynamic covalent chemistry, Synthesis of nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s44160-022-00068-7

Citation: The long hypothetical “next-generation wonder material,” first created (May 21, 2022), received May 21, 2022, from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-long-hypothesized-material.html

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