Physicists have made and planned another type of carbon

The molecule known as a cyclocarbon binds to other forms of carbon, such as buckyballs and carbon nanotubes

An elusive carbon crown has made its long-awaited debut.

Scientists have created a molecule called a cyclocarbon and mapped its structure, describing the 18-atom carbon ring online Aug. 15 in Science. The work presents a new face to one of the most beloved elements of chemistry.

β€œIt’s not every day that you create a new form of carbon,” said Rik Tykwinski, a chemist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, who was not involved in the research. The result kept chemists away for a long time that Tykwinski would bet if the cyclocarbon would do and map. β€œI actually won a bottle of scotch from a friend,” he says.

Cyclocarbon combines other forms of versatile elements including diamond, graphite, thin films known as graphene, tiny spheres called buckyballs, and small cylinders called carbon nanotubes.

Chemists believe that it should be possible to create ring-shaped carbon molecules. So far, no one knows what their assets look like, explains physicist Katharina Kaiser of IBM Research in Zurich. “It was really nice to have seen him and to recognize him very well.”

In the lab, Kaiser and his colleagues started cyclocarbon oxide molecules, which are made up of carbon atoms arranged in a loop with additional carbon monoxide groups attached to the atoms. Removing carbon monoxide to produce the desired new form of carbon is not an easy task; These groups help stabilize the molecule. Using an atomic force microscope, the researchers managed to break down the foreign carbon monoxide by applying stresses to the molecule.

Eventually, the procedure resulted in a bare carbon ring, which the team imagined using a microscope. Cyclocarbon readily responds to other substances. To isolate it, the team created the new carbon molecule on a stationary table salt surface.

Previous research has found evidence of cyclocarbon molecules in a gas. However, this work did not satisfy the curiosity of chemists because it was not possible to imagine the Molecule and confirm its structure. In particular, it is not clear whether the bonds between each atom alternate between longer and shorter lengths called single and triple bonds, or if all bonds are of equal length or double bond. The new study resolves the debate and shows that carbon atoms are combined by alternating single and triple bonds.

This finding may help scientists refine the complex computer calculations used to predict the structures of unknown molecules. “It’s always a big question if a lot of them … the calculations give the correct answer. So it’s very important to confirm this by experimenting,” said UCLA chemist Yves Rubin, who did did not participate in the experiment. study.

Previous work on new forms of carbon has been met with great enthusiasm. The discovery of buckyballs and the family of molecules to which they belong, fullerenes, in the 1980s won a Nobel Prize and much more research (SN: 10/19/96, p. 247). In addition, the discovery of graphene received a Nobel Prize in 2004, followed by investigations into possible applications in electronics (SN Online: 05.10.10).

However, since the cyclocarbon is unstable, it cannot be bottled for further investigation. It is not yet known how far the effects of the new molecule will reach.

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