An Indian-origin scientist, Dr. Madhu Menon has developed a new one atom-thick flat material that could upstage the wonder material graphene for having properties allowing it to be used in advance digital technology.
Dr. Madhu Menon is a physicist in the centre for computational sciences at the University of Kentucky in the US. This new material is made up of silicon, boron and nitrogen - all light, economical and bountiful elements. The material is considered as stable, a property many other graphene alternatives lack.
While graphene is considered as being the world's strongest material with its several unique properties, it has one downside: it isn't a semiconductor and therefore deceives in the digital technology industry. The three elements forming the new material all have distinguish sizes; the bonds connecting the atoms are also different. As a result, the sides of the hexagons formed by these atoms are unequal, unlike in graphene. With the state-of-the-art theoretical computations, Dr. Menon along with his associates established that by combining the three elements, it is achievable to obtain a one atom-thick, truly 2D material with properties that can be fine-tuned to suit various applications beyond what is possible with the normal graphene. "We used simulations to see if the bonds would break or disintegrate - it didn't happen. We heated the material up to 1,000 degree Celsius and it still didn't break," said Dr. Menon. The new material is metallic but can be made semiconducting easily by attaching other elements on top of the silicon atoms.
Menon's colleagues in the research were Ernst Richter from Daimler in Germany and Antonis Andriotis from Institute for Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) in Greece.
This discovery also opens a new chapter in material science by offering new opportunities for researchers to explore functional flexibility and new properties for new applications. The discovery is reported in a paper in Physical Review B.