Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA http://doi.org/cs5k (2018)
Nanostructured carbon comes in many forms with different curvatures, such as positively curved spherical fullerenes or zero-curved two-dimensional graphene. Many theoretically predicted carbons adopt the form of so-called schwarzites, carbon allotropes with negative Gaussian curvature. However, it remains unclear whether ‘random schwarzites’ and zeolite-templated carbons (ZTCs), the only experimentally isolated materials with similar properties, can be considered schwarzites. Now, E. Braun and colleagues have presented a theoretical framework offering a complete library of synthesizable ZTCs from known zeolites, and confirmed that ZTCs are schwarzites incarnate.
The researchers exploit the idea of structural similarity between ZTCs and schwarzites, which resemble a triply periodic minimal surface (TPMS). The designed Monte Carlo method closely mimics the zeolite templating process. As an output, a subset of novel ZTCs was obtained and matched with the experimentally isolated ZTCs. Consequently, the researchers concluded that many ZTCs, despite their dissimilar structural parameters, resembled known TPMSs — linking these materials to hypothesized carbon schwarzites and showing how to find template zeolites to experimentally synthesize a desired schwarzite.