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For several years, a team of researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas has investigated various materials in search of those whose electrical properties might make them suitable for small, energy-efficient transistors to power next-generation electronic devices.

They recently found one such material, but it was nothing anyone expected.

In an article published online March 10 in the journal Advanced Materials, Dr. Moon Kim and his colleagues describe a material that, when heated to about 450 degrees Celsius, transforms from an atomically thin, two-dimensional sheet into an array of one-dimensional nanowires, each just a few atoms wide.

An image caught in mid-transformation looks like a tiny United States flag, and with false colors added, is arguably the world's smallest image of Old Glory, Kim said.

"The phase transition we observed, this new structure, was not predicted by theory," said Kim, the Louis Beecherl Jr. Distinguished Professor of materials science and engineering at UT Dallas.

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Category: Science