The exploration, understanding and potential applications of 'Carbyne', the one-dimensional sp allotrope of carbon, have been severely limited due to its extreme reactivity and a tendency for highly exothermic cross-linking. Due to ill-defined materials, limited characterization and a lack of compelling definitive evidence, even the existence of linear carbons has been questioned. We report a first-ever investigation on the formation of carbyne-like materials during low temperature pyrolysis of biobased lignin, a natural bioresource. The presence of carbyne was confirmed by detecting acetylenic bonds in lignin chars using NMR, Raman and FTIR spectroscopies. The crystallographic structure of this phase was determined as hexagonal: a = 6.052 Å, c = 6.96 Å from x-ray diffraction results. HRSEM images on lignin chars showed that the carbyne phase was present as nanoscale flakes/fibers (~10 nm thick) dispersed in an organic matrix and showed no sign of overlapping or physical contact. These nanostructures did not show any tendency towards cross-linking, but preferred to branch out instead. Overcoming key issues/challenges associated with their formation and stability, this study presents a novel approach for producing a stable condensed phase of sp-bonded linear carbons from a low-cost, naturally abundant, and renewable bioresource.
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