Atomic structure and dynamic behaviour of truly one-dimensional ionic chains inside carbon nanotubes
Materials with reduced dimensionality have attracted much interest in various fields of fundamental and applied science. True one-dimensional (1D) crystals with single-atom thickness have been realized only for few elemental metals (Au, Ag) or carbon, all of which showed very short lifetimes under ambient conditions. We demonstrate here a successful synthesis of stable 1D ionic crystals in which two chemical elements, one being a cation and the other an anion, align alternately inside carbon nanotubes. Unusual dynamical behaviours for different atoms in the 1D lattice are experimentally corroborated and suggest substantial interactions of the atoms with the nanotube sheath. Our theoretical studies indicate that the 1D ionic crystals have optical properties distinct from those of their bulk counterparts and that the properties can be engineered by introducing atomic defects into the chains.