The strongest known material in the world may have just been dethroned. Researchers from Rice University have calculated the properties of a little-studied form of carbon known as carbyne, and they've determined that it should have a "specific strength surpassing that of any other known material." That includes graphene — the longstanding titleholder for strongest material — which the researchers say is only half as stiff as carbyne. Carbyne and graphene are actually alike in several ways: both come from carbon, and both are only a single atom thick.
Carbyne has previously been detected in interstellar dust and meteorites. And obtaining it on Earth hasn't been easy: researchers have figured out how to chemically synthesize it, but only recently have they been able to create strands of the material that reach up to just 44 atoms long. Even so, now that carbyne's strength has been revealed, Rice's researchers suggest that it'll be of "great interest" to many who are looking into future possibilities for nanotechnology.