CCI Phase I: NSF Center for Nanothread Chemistry

Project: Research project

Project Details


The NSF Center for Nanothread Chemistry pioneers a new form of carbon molecule, formed when arrays of small molecules transform under pressure into arrays of long thread-like molecules in a diamond-like geometry. These remarkable reactions totally reorganize every atom within the starting molecules to produce highly ordered parallel arrays of nanothreads. The team of researchers in the Center for Nanothread Chemistry aims to produce whole new families of nanothreads with diverse chemical compositions, structures, and properties. These materials can currently be made only in very small amounts, and a key goal of the Center is to learn how make larger quantities that will enable further fundamental science and technology impacts. This 'flexible diamond' material may be broadly useful in application areas such as high strength composites, energy storage, and catalysis. These new nanomaterials also provide a rich venue for public outreach and the training of a diverse next generation of emerging science professionals.

The NSF Center for Nanothread Chemistry defines the chemistry generating a new class of organic molecules defined by pervasive covalent bond connectivity in multiple dimensions. Nanothreads, the first such example, are highly extended one-dimensional molecules with cage-like bonding, akin to the thinnest possible threads of diamond and capped by circumferential hydrogen. Nanothreads are synthesized by an innovative mechanochemical technique in which molecules with multiple unsaturated functions react under stress applied at carefully controlled rates. This strategy overcomes the traditional requirement for topochemical commensuration between the reactant and product and thus allows for many more molecular crystals to react into well-defined structures. The Center team is developing an actionable understanding of the reaction mechanism and enabling the design of new threads with desired arrangements of both interior heteroatoms and exterior functional groups. Post-synthesis modification allows for versatile incorporation of new groups of diverse function and also allows for additional structural elaboration. The unique architecture and properties of nanothreads provide opportunities for commercialization. The interplay of theory, synthesis and characterization provides rich training opportunities for diverse groups of students and researchers.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date9/1/182/28/23


  • National Science Foundation: $1,800,000.00


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