Graphene is the hottest property in materials science these days. Its extraordinary electronic, thermal and physical properties make it the most heavily studied substance on the plant right now.
But there is one thing that graphene can’t do and that is to fit easily into the silicon-based electronics industry. And while graphene based chips hold much promise, it’s hard to see chip makers re-tooling to use carbon instead of silicon in the near future.
That’s why a number of groups have become to look at the possibility of making silicon versions of grahene, a material called silicene. Silicon nanowires made their first appearance in 2005. And now Christelle Leandri at the Center for Interdisciplinary Nanoscience in Marseille, France, and a few buddies have made silicene for the first time, albeit in the form of stripes or nanoribbons.
What the team has done is create parallel stripes of silicene, just one atom thick on a silver substrate. The team says the physical and chemical properties of these nanoribbons is striking.
For a start silicon nanoribbons seem to be more chemically stable than their graphene cousins. In particular, graphene is highly reactive around its edges where carbon bonds dangle freely. This can make graphene hard to handle. The edges of silicene on the other hand seems to be naturally inert.
Leandri et amis have high hopes for silicene, saying that it could be incorporated into current manufacturing processes and thereby “help prolong the life of Moore’s law.”
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0811.2611: Physics of Silicene Stripes