Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Manchester physicists pioneer new super-thin technology

01.03.2007
Researchers have used the world's thinnest material to create a new type of technology, which could be used to make super-fast electronic components and speed up the development of drugs.

Physicists at The University of Manchester and The Max-Planck Institute in Germany have created a new kind of a membrane that is only one atom thick.

It's believed this super-small structure can be used to sieve gases, make ultra-fast electronic switches and image individual molecules with unprecedented accuracy.

The findings of the research team is published today (Thursday 1 March 2007) in the journal Nature.

Two years ago, scientists discovered a new class of materials that can be viewed as individual atomic planes pulled out of bulk crystals.

These one-atom-thick materials and in particular graphene – a gauze of carbon atoms resembling chicken wire – have rapidly become one of the hottest topics in physics.

However, it has remained doubtful whether such materials can exist in the free state, without being placed on top of other materials.

Now an international research team, led by Dr Jannik Meyer of The Max-Planck Institute in Germany and Professor Andre Geim of The University of Manchester has managed to make free-hanging graphene.

The team used a combination of microfabrication techniques used, for example, in the manufacturing of microprocessors.

A metallic scaffold was placed on top of a sheet of graphene, which was placed on a silicon chip. The chip was then dissolved in acids, leaving the graphene hanging freely in air or a vacuum from the scaffold.

The resulting membranes are the thinnest material possible and maintain a remarkably high quality.

Professor Geim – who works in the School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester – and his fellow researchers have also found the reason for the stability of such atomically-thin materials, which were previously presumed to be impossible.

They report that graphene is not perfectly flat but instead gently crumpled out of plane, which helps stabilise otherwise intrinsically unstable ultra-thin matter.

Professor Geim and his colleagues believe that the membranes they have created can be used like sieves, to filter light gases through the atomic mesh of the chicken wire structure, or to make miniature electro-mechanical switches.

It's also thought it may be possible to use them as a non-obscuring support for electron microscopy to study individual molecules.

This has significant implications for the development of medical drugs, as it will potentially allow the rapid analysis of the atomic structures of bio-active complex molecules.

"This is a completely new type of technology – even nanotechnology is not the right word to describe these new membranes," said Professor Geim.

"We have made proof-of-concept devices and believe the technology transfer to other areas should be straightforward. However, the real challenge is to make such membranes cheap and readily available for large-scale applications."

Alex Waddington | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.manchester.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

nachricht Magnetic moment of a single antiproton determined with greatest precision ever
19.01.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>