February 29, 2016

University of Kentucky Physicist Discovers New 2D Material that could Upstage Graphene

View the video above to hear more about the new material discovered by Menon
that could upstage graphene. Video by REVEAL Research Media.

(February 29, 2016)  A new one atom-thick flat material that could upstage the wonder material graphene and advance digital technology has been discovered by a physicist at the University of Kentucky working in collaboration with scientists from Daimler in Germany and the Institute for Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) in Greece.

The atoms in the new structure are arranged in a hexagonal pattern as in graphene, but that
is where the similarity ends. The three elements forming the new material all have different
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.

Reported in Physical Review B, Rapid Communications, the new material is made up of silicon, boron and nitrogen — all light, inexpensive and earth abundant elements — and is extremely stable, a property many other graphene alternatives lack.

"We used simulations to see if the bonds would break or disintegrate — it didn't happen," said Madhu Menon, a physicist in the UK Center for Computational Sciences. "We heated the material up to 1,000-degree Celsius and it still didn't break."

Image courtesy of Madhu Menon

Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, Menon and his collaborators Ernst Richter from Daimler and a former UK Department of Physics and Astronomy post-doctoral research associate, and Antonis Andriotis from IESL, have demonstrated that by combining the three elements, it is possible 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 graphene.

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