Thinnest Glass Ever Is Officially 2D At 3 Atoms Thick

Thinnest Glass Ever Is Officially 2D At 3 Atoms Thick

It might not look like much, but that’s because it isn’t much! Like many of science’s greatest finds, this three-atom thick sheet of glass (well, a view of it from an electron microscope) was discovered by accident when an air leak caused carbon, copper and quartz to react, producing this marvel.

It’s composed entirely of silicon and oxygen and the only reason it’s not a single atom is because the minimum thickness of silica glass is — you guessed it — three atoms. According to Science Mag, this means the glass is technically two-dimensional, a fact which will boggle my mind for years to come. If you’re not feeling it with me, consider that the little dots in the image above are individual atoms. Yeah, they look almost exactly like they do in the inset diagram.

The discovery was made by a group of researchers from Cornell University in New York, Germany’s University of Ulm, the University of Vienna in Austria and Germany’s Helsinki and Aalto universities.

What can we do with this glass? I’m not quite sure yet, but it’s unlikely to be iPhones for ants.

[Science Mag]

Image: Pinshane Huang, David Muller, Cornell University.