Graphene's chief rival silicene, has been given another boost as scientists in Japan have found a new way to manufacture atom-thin sheets of silicon.
The idea that silicon could exist in two dimensional sheets was first mooted back in 2007, when researchers from Wright University in Ohio dubbed the then hypothetical material “silicene”.
Graphite, the original material from which graphene was first extracted (with a piece of sticky tape) is composed of two dimensional layers of covalently bonded carbon atoms. Weak van der Waals forces binds the layers together.
Silicon will not naturally shape up like this, so to create it, scientists have had to grow it on a substrate. In the summer of 2010, French scientists succeeded in growing ribbons of the material on silver. But since silver is a conductor, a new technique needed to be found if silicene was to be useful in electronics.
According to Science News, Antoine Fleurence, a physicist at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Ishikawa told last week’s Dallas meeting of the American Physical Society, that he and his colleagues had succeeded in growing a layer of silicon on the ceramic zirconium diboride.
The structure, examined with X-rays, was shown to be a honeycomb network of hexagons, similar to graphene’s famous chickenwire.
More here at Science News.