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Best of 2013: New Form of Carbon is Stronger Than Graphene and Diamond

In August, the blog revealed that chains of double or triple-bonded carbon atoms, known as carbyne, should be stronger and stiffer than any known material.

The sixth element, carbon, has given us an amazing abundance of extraordinary materials. Once there was simply carbon, graphite and diamond. But in recent years chemists have added buckyballs, nanotubes and any number of exotic shapes created out of graphene, the molecular equivalent of chickenwire.

So it’s hard to believe that carbon has any more surprises up its sleeve. And yet today, Mingjie Liu and pals at Rice University in Houston calculate the properties of another form of carbon that is stronger, stiffer and more exotic than anything chemists have seen before.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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