Scientists are making stanene, graphene’s cooler brother – this is the first time anyone has managed to actually make the extremely thin compound. Many have indeed tried in the past, but there are very few methods to do this, and none worked. Until now.
About two years ago, physicists predicted that graphene, one of the best electricity conductors out there, could soon become obsolete, as stanene could, theoretically be produced. Stanene represents the meshing of tin into sheets as thick as one of the element’s atom. Yet, never since they first theorized it did the scientists actually manage to recreate the element in practice.
But now they have.
At least, that’s what is said in a report in Nature’s Materials section form the August 3rd edition.
What makes scientists burst in enthusiastic child-like laughter of joy when talking about this material is the fact that, it being one atom thick, it means that the electricity circulating through it would not make it heat up. This could have countless applications in all the devices we see today.
Bye-bye overheating. The possibilities would be endless. Like playing Candy Crush for over an hour on your phone in the summer without it melting your hand off. Or other, more important, science stuff. Jokes aside, just imagine what wonders this would do for computers all over the world.
Stanene has a pretty strange name though. Where does it come from? It is derived from the Latin term that exists for tin – stannum. In the periodic table of elements, the element is present with the symbol Sn, if you ever wanted to know what it is. It’s obviously also derived from the Latin name.
What makes stanene so special is that, in normal conditions, the electrons go only through the edge of the sheet, and therefore do not collide with those inside the sheet. This assures that not energy is lost because it doesn’t have where to go. For graphene, or other conductors, at least some energy will always be lost into heat. It’s just how these other elements behave.
However, scientists did not achieve a perfect exponent of stanene, as, as was said previously, it’s very difficult to create. For this partially successful experiment, the researchers led by Shou-Cheng Zhang, the man who theorized stanene in 2013, boiled tin until it vaporized, and then let it set on a surface made of bismuth telluride.
Unfortunately, the two elements reacted too violently, and the conducting capabilities of stanene were compromised. However, the researchers will continue their work, having been further motivated by the fact that they actually created a sheet of the element.
Image source: channel5.com