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 Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte
17.08.2018 | Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT)

nachricht Protecting the power grid: Advanced plasma switch for more efficient transmission
17.08.2018 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>