Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Wonder Material Silicene Still Stands Just Out of Reach


Silicene is the thinnest form of silicon. It is metallic, has graphene-like mobile carriers and can behave like a semiconductor. The wonder material could lead to even smaller electronics but challenges remain in this review published in the Science and Technology of Advanced Materials.

Scientists in Japan compared the properties of a hypothetical freestanding one-atom-thick layer of silicon to a similar sheet developed on a metal substrate. Although promising, this second “epitaxial” form shows important differences. Turning the hypothetical material into a reality still remains a major challenge, 20 years after it was first reported.

Structures and structural parameters of (a) diamond-structured silicon, (b) graphene, (c) disilene and (d) hypothetical, freestanding silicene

Copyright : Science and Technology of Advanced Materials

In 1994, scientists published their first theoretical report on the thinnest possible form of silicon. Among many other uses, silicon is incorporated as a semiconductor in integrated circuits, the basis of most computers.

But it was only ten years later in 2004, when another material, graphene, was reported, that scientists started showing a real interest, and eventually named the material, “silicene”.

Graphene is a one-atom-thick layer of carbon that has been shown to host the fastest carriers of electricity yet found. Compared with silicon, however, graphene is not a semi-conductor because it can’t switch between conducting and not conducting states. This makes it very difficult to apply it in a switching device such as a transistor.

This is why silicene is so exciting. In its freestanding form, this one-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms has graphene-like mobile carriers as well and is metallic. On the other hand, for instance by applying strain or an electric field, it could also be turned to behave like a semiconductor.

This is because the structure could be easily modified or switched on the atomic scale. In addition, it would be compatible with already existing silicon-based circuitry. This is envisaged to lead to the development of even smaller electronics than those currently on the market.

Because of its exciting potential, the experimental demonstration of the existence of silicene was highly anticipated. In 2012, several groups reported successfully developing “epitaxial” silicene: silicene sheets formed on metallic substrates.

A team of Japanese scientists compared the characteristic properties of theoretical freestanding silicene to epitaxial silicene they had produced on a zirconium diboride substrate. They found that the crystal structure of epitaxial silicene was strongly influenced by its metal substrate, thus resulting in electronic properties different from those predicted for the hypothetical freestanding form.

The synthesis of freestanding silicene remains a major challenge and many of the properties of its epitaxial form are not yet fully understood. However, the team of Japanese scientists joined by a few other groups worldwide will further work on the understanding of the formation mechanism of epitaxial silicene and its interaction with the substrate. Based on the deep understanding of this matter, present and future work is anticipated to result in the required developments such as the formation of silicene on an insulating platform and its successful encapsulation. This would then lead to practical applications of the material.

For further information contact:
Associate Professor Yukiko Yamada-Takamura
School of Materials Science
Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
Nomi, Japan
Tel: +81-761-51-1570

Associated links
Link to research paper on Science and Technology of Advanced Materials

Journal information

Yukiko Yamada-Takamura and Rainer Friedlein 2014 Sci. Technol. Adv. Mater. 15 064404 doi:10.1088/1468-6996/15/6/064404

Mikiko Tanifuji | ResearchSEA
Further information:

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>