Silicene puts silicon-based life back into electronics

What if you could have graphene, but instead of it being carbon based, it was silicon based, and therefore already compatible with today's silicon electronics? Welcome silicene, a new wonder material composed of an atom-thick sheet of silicon.

What if you could have graphene, but instead of it being carbon based, it was silicon based, and therefore already compatible with today's silicon electronics? Welcome silicene, a new wonder material composed of an atom-thick sheet of silicon.

According to researchers Hamid Oughaddou from Cergy-Pontoise University and Bernard Aufray of the French National Center for Scientific Research, silicene ought to be able to do everything graphene can do, but do it silicon style.

They first suggested silicene might exist in a paper in the journal of Superconductivity and Novel Magnetism in 2008, noting that the “silicene gold rush could give a new kick to silicon on the electronics road-map and open the most promising route towards wide-ranging applications .”

Now, the team claims evidence for silicene's existence, saying they have created nanoribbons of the material. Scans suggest it too has a honeycomb structure, just like graphene.

The work is published in Applied Physics Letters, where the abstract reads as follows:

We report on the electronic properties of straight, 1.6 nm wide, silicene nanoribbons on Ag(110), arranged in a one-dimensional grating with a pitch of 2 nm, whose high-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy images reveal a honeycomb geometry. Angle-resolved photoemission shows quantum confined electronic states of one-dimensional character. The silicon band dispersion along the direction of the nanoribbons suggests a behavior analogous to the Dirac cones of graphene on different substrates.

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