Pressure induced polymerization of acetylide anions in CaC2 and 107 fold enhancement of electrical conductivity
Transformation between different types of carbon–carbon bonding in carbides often results in a dramatic change of physical and chemical properties. Under external pressure, unsaturated carbon atoms form new covalent bonds regardless of the electrostatic repulsion. It was predicted that calcium acetylide (also known as calcium carbide, CaC2) polymerizes to form calcium polyacetylide, calcium polyacenide and calcium graphenide under high pressure. In this work, the phase transitions of CaC2 under external pressure were systematically investigated, and the amorphous phase was studied in detail for the first time. Polycarbide anions like C66− are identified with gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and several other techniques, which evidences the pressure induced polymerization of the acetylide anions and suggests the existence of the polyacenide fragment. Additionally, the process of polymerization is accompanied with a 107 fold enhancement of the electrical conductivity. The polymerization of acetylide anions demonstrates that high pressure compression is a viable route to synthesize novel metal polycarbides and materials with extended carbon networks, while shedding light on the synthesis of more complicated metal organics.