Applying just the right amount of tension to a chain of carbon atoms can turn it from a metallic conductor to an insulator, according to Rice University scientists. Stretching the material known as carbyne — a hard-to-make, one-dimensional chain of carbon atoms — by just 3 percent can begin to change its properties in ways that engineers might find useful for mechanically activated nanoscale electronics and optics. Carbyne turns from a metal to a semiconductor when stretched, according to calculations by Rice University scientists. Pulling on the ends would force the atoms to separate in pairs, opening a band gap. The chain of single carbon atoms would theoretically be the strongest material ever if it could be made reliably. (Credit: Vasilii Artyukhov/Rice University) The finding by Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues appears in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters. Until recently, carbyne has existed mostly in theory, though experimentalists have made some headway in creating small samples of the finicky material. The carbon chain would theoretically be the strongest material ever, if only someone could make it reliably. The first-principle calculations by Yakobson and his co-authors, Rice postdoctoral researcher Vasilii Artyukhov and graduate student Mingjie Liu, show
See Zazzle gifts tagged with 'science'