Room-Temperature Chemical Synthesis of C2

Diatomic carbon (C<sub>2</sub>) is historically an elusive chemical species. It has long been believed that the generation of C<sub>2 </sub>requires extremely high “physical” energy, such as an electric carbon arc or multiple photon excitation, and so it has been the general consensus that the inherent nature of C<sub>2 </sub><i>in the ground state </i>is experimentally inaccessible. Here, we present the first “chemical” synthesis of C<sub>2 </sub>in a flask at <i>room temperature or below</i>, providing the first experimental evidence to support theoretical predictions that (1) C<sub>2 </sub>has a singlet biradical character with a quadruple bond, thus settling a long-standing controversy between experimental and theoretical chemists, and that (2) C<sub>2 </sub>serves as a molecular element in the formation of sp<sup>2</sup>-carbon allotropes such as graphite, carbon nanotubes and C<sub>60</sub>.