Penta-graphene – New Structural Variant of Carbon Discovered


The newly discovered material penta-graphene is a single layer of carbon pentagons.

Cooperation between Universities in China, Japan and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) was very successful. They worked together on a new discovery of a penta-graphene and everything finished with great results. Penta-graphene is a very thin sheet of pure carbon. It has a unique structure inspired by a pentagonal pattern of a tiles found paving the streets of Cairo.


Cairo pentagonal tiling was inspiration behind penta-graphene, source

So far, penta-graphene looks like it is dynamically, mechanically and thermally stable. The senior author of this study, Puru Jena, Ph.D.,  professor in the Department of Physics in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, said: “The three last important forms of carbon that have been discovered were fullerene, the nanotube and graphene. Each one of them has unique structure. Penta-graphene will belong in that category.”

The original study appeared in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and it contains data gathered from Peking University and VCU.


Penta-graphene, credit: Virginia Commonwealth University

So why is penta-graphene such a success? It is because most forms of carbon are made of hexagonal building blocks. However, there are also pentagons. Penta-graphene is very unique two-dimensional carbon allotrope, which is created only with pentagons.


Creation of penta-graphene was not easy, but with help of computer modeling, everything is possible. After successful modeling of the penta-graphene, the results showed something quite surprising. It might be possible that this material can be better than graphene in certain applications. It is because it is mechanically stable, it also posses very high strength and is also capable of withstanding temperatures of up to 1,000 degrees Kelvin. Penta-graphene is also semiconductor, while graphene is a conductor of electricity.


The authors of the study about penta-graphene (from left): Puru Jena, Ph.D., distinguished professor in VCU’s Department of Physics, Qian Wang, Ph.D., a professor at Peking University and an adjunct professor at VCU, and Jian Zhou, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher at VCU.

Another very strange attribute is how the material stretches. According to Qian Wang, Ph.D., a professor Peking University and an adjunct professor at VCU, when you stretch penta-graphene, it will expand in both directions. But graphene only expands along the direction it is stretched. 

The big challenge is just in front of the researchers. Now, they have to synthetize penta-graphene. They believe, that once it will be done, there will not be any issues with penta-graphene being not stable. Even though, that this project is just at the beginning of the long journey, it is very exciting, because two-dimensional carbon made completely of pentagons has never been known. 


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Michaela Miklusak

Michaela Miklusak is deputy editor of and big technology enthusiast. Michaela now lives in Singapore, where she studies System Engineering and Informatics.

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