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The hottest celebrity in world of nanomaterials may soon face a new rival. Inspired by the Nobel Prize-winning creation of the carbon material known as graphene, physicists have now created atom-thin sheets of carbon’s big brother, silicon.

Silicon shares many properties with carbon, which sits just above silicon on the periodic table. In 2007 Lok Lew Yan Voon and then-graduate student Gian Guzmán-Verri of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, proposed that silicon could exist in flat sheets similar to graphene, even though silicon doesn’t naturally form the kind of atomic bonds needed to accomplish this.

They coined the new term for this material: silicene.

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Category: Science