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A nanoscale grapevine with hydrogen grapes could someday provide your car's preferred vintage of fuel.

Rice University researchers have determined that a lattice of calcium-decorated carbyne has the potential to store hydrogen at levels that easily exceed Department of Energy (DOE) goals for use as a "green" alternative fuel for vehicles. 

The rise of nanoscale strategies for energy storage has been dramatic in recent years, as evidenced by labs worldwide suggesting various ways to use nanotubes and ribbons as a medium. But they may not be thinking small enough, according to new research by the lab of theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson that was published last week in the online journal Nano Letters. Yakobson is Rice's Karl F. Hasselmann Chair in Engineering and a professor of materials science and mechanical engineering and of chemistry.

Carbyne is a chain of carbon atoms; it's what you'd get if you could pull a string from a slice of graphene the same way you'd pull a loose thread from a sweater. "A one-atom rod of carbon is as thin as it can ever get, way thinner than a carbon nanotube," Yakobson said.

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Category: Science