American Chemical Society
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Scalable Synthesis of Crystalline One-Dimensional Carbon Nanothreads through Modest-Pressure Polymerization of Furan

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posted on 2021-01-20, 16:06 authored by Steven Huss, Sikai Wu, Bo Chen, Tao Wang, Margaret C. Gerthoffer, Daniel J. Ryan, Stuart E. Smith, Vincent H. Crespi, John V. Badding, Elizabeth Elacqua
Carbon nanothreads, which are one-dimensional sp3-rich polymers, combine high tensile strength with flexibility owing to subnanometer widths and diamond-like cores. These extended carbon solids are constructed through pressure-induced polymerization of sp2 molecules such as benzene. Whereas a few examples of carbon nanothreads have been reported, the need for high onset pressures (≥17 GPa) to synthesize them precludes scalability and limits scope. Herein, we report the scalable synthesis of carbon nanothreads based on molecular furan, which can be achieved through ambient temperature pressure-induced polymerization with an onset reaction pressure of only 10 GPa due to its lessened aromaticity relative to other molecular precursors. When slowly compressed to 15 GPa and gradually decompressed to 1.5 GPa, a sharp 6-fold diffraction pattern is observed in situ, indicating a well-ordered crystalline material formed from liquid furan. Single-crystal X-ray diffraction (XRD) of the reaction product exhibits three distinct d-spacings from 4.75 to 4.9 Å, whose size, angular spacing, and degree of anisotropy are consistent with our atomistic simulations for crystals of furan nanothreads. Further evidence for polymerization was obtained by powder XRD, Raman/IR spectroscopy, and mass spectrometry. Comparison of the IR spectra with computed vibrational modes provides provisional identification of spectral features characteristic of specific nanothread structures, namely syn, anti, and syn/anti configurations. Mass spectrometry suggests that molecular weights of at least 6 kDa are possible. Furan therefore presents a strategic entry toward scalable carbon nanothreads.