For over a decade, scientists have been trying to synthesize a new form of carbon called graphyne with next to no success. But researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have finally succeeded in creating the elusive allotrope of carbon. This research fills a long-standing gap in carbon material science and opens up new possibilities for electronics, optics, and semiconductor research.
The researchers have documented their process in a study titled, Synthesis of γ-graphyne using dynamic covalent chemistry,” published in Nature Synthesis. The creation of different carbon allotropes (forms) has long interested scientists because of the element’s versatility and usefulness in various industries.
Researchers working on these materials were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 and 2010.
Carbon allotropes can be constructed differently depending on how hybrids of carbons and their corresponding bonds are utilized. The most well-known such allotropes include graphite used in pencil and diamonds. They are created out of ‘sp2’ carbon and ‘sp3’ carbon, respectively. Scientists have used traditional methods to create various such allotropes, including fullerene and graphene. Researchers working on these materials were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996 and 2010.
But unfortunately, these methods do not allow different types of carbon to be synthesized together in any significant capacity. This is required for creating graphyne. Due to this obstacle, graphyne remained a theoretical material speculated to have unique electrical, mechanical and optical properties. Researchers in the field approached Wei Zhang, the co-author of the research article, and his lab group. Zhang is a professor of chemistry at CU Boulder and reversible studies chemistry. Reversible chemistry allows bonds to seld-correct, thus opening possibilities to create new kinds of ‘lattices’ (ordered structures) like synthetic polymers that resemble DNA.