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They are 50,000 times thinner than a human hair and just a few atoms thick: two-dimensional materials are the thinnest substances it is possible to make today. They have completely new properties and are regarded as the next major step in modern semiconductor technology. In the future they could be used instead of silicon in computer chips, light-emitting diodes and solar cells. Until now, the development of new two-dimensional materials has been limited to structures with layers of rigid chemical bonds in two spatial directions—like a sheet of paper in a stack. Now for the first time, a research team from the universities of Marburg, Giessen and Paderborn, led by Dr. Johanna Heine (Inorganic Chemistry, Philipps University of Marburg) has overcome this limitation by using an innovative concept. The researchers developed an organic-inorganic hybrid crystal which consists of chains in a single direction, yet still forms two-dimensional layers in spite of this. This makes it possible to combine different material components, like pieces in a construction set, to create tailored materials with innovative properties.

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