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July 25, 2005

Scientists develop one-atom thick material

From the University of Manchester:

A team of British and Russian scientists led by Professor Geim have discovered a whole family of previously unknown materials, which are one atom thick and exhibit properties which scientists had never thought possible.

Not only are they ultra-thin, but depending on circumstances they can also be ultra-strong, highly-insulating or highly-conductive, offering a wide range of unique properties for space-age engineers and designers to choose from....

The materials have been created by extracting individual atomic planes from conventional bulk crystals by using a technique called 'micromechanical cleavage'. Depending on a parent crystal, their one-atom-thick counterparts can be metals, semiconductors, insulators, magnets, etc. Previously, it was thought that such thin materials could not exist in principle, but the research team have, for the first time, demonstrated that they are not only possible but fairly easy to make.

They found that the atomically thin sheets they extracted were not only stable under ambient conditions but also exhibited extremely high crystal quality, which is what gives them their unique properties.

Dr Kostya Novoselov, a key investigator in this research, added: "Probably the most important part is that our discovery is not limited to just one or two new materials. It is a whole class of new materials, thousands of them. And they have a variety of properties, allowing one to choose a material most appropriate for a particular application.

I'm pretty sure I had a blanket made of that material back during the winter of 1977.

Posted by Danny Carlton at July 25, 2005 08:51 AM

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