A three-dimensional form of carbon that’s metallic at room temperature and under ‘normal’ pressure has been discovered by an international team that includes researchers from Peking University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics.
The material hasn’t actually been observed yet, though — it’s theoretical. The researchers are hoping that their new findings will lead to spur new experimental research on the novel form of carbon.
Carbon science research is currently an intense field of research that currently attracts a lot of investment and manpower — largely thanks to the potential application of any newly created materials in the electronics industries. But certain things have remained somewhat out of reach, including the creation of a stable three-dimensional form of carbon that is metallic under ambient conditions.
That doesn’t appear to be the case anymore, though, thanks to the new findings. The key appears to be the utilization of interlocking hexagons, according to work done with “state-of-the-art theoretical methods.”
“The interlocking of hexagons provides two unique features — hexagonal arrangement introduces metallic character, and the interlocking form with tetrahedral bonding guarantees stability,” stated co-lead researcher Puru Jena, PhD, distinguished professor of physics in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences. “The right combination of these properties could one day be applied to a variety of technologies.”
“Unlike high-pressure techniques that require three terapascals of pressure to make carbon metallic, the studied structures are stable at ambient conditions and may be synthesized using benzene or polyacenes molecules,” added co-lead researcher Qian Wang, PhD, who holds a professor position at Peking University and an adjunct faculty position at VCU. “The new metallic carbon structures may have important applications in lightweight metals for space applications, catalysis and in devices showing negative differential resistance or superconductivity.”
There’s a strong chance that such a material could prove useful in the development of solar energy technology.
The new findings were just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.