Remember how graphene — the single-atom thick layer of carbon — was so slick it was going to change everything? Well it looks like silicene is here to steal the spotlight. Reachers have just made the first sheet of single-atom thick silicon.
Silicene has been a work in progress for years, but they think they’ve finally got it down now, and it represents a tremendous breakthrough. Graphene is awesome, but it’s proven a bit tricky to work it into components. Because silicene is made of silicon, which most chips are already made of, the integration process could be much simpler.
Patrick Vogt of Berlin’s Technical University in Germany, alongside researchers at Aix-Marseille University in France managed to create silicene by condensing silicon vapour onto a silver plate to form a single layer of atoms. They then tested the sheet and found that it closely matched the properties silicene was theorised to exhibit. The next (challenging) step will be to grow silicene on insulating substrates so that it can be fully tested and evaluated for potential future uses in electronics. We’re looking forward to see what they do with this stuff. [New Scientist]