Electronic Engineers are always looking towards the next big thing, a new material that could make devices smaller, faster, and cheaper than ever before. Now, researchers have become convinced that silicon’s successor may be none other than a reinvention of silicon itself.
The new silicon, called silicene, is made up of a sheet of silicon atoms arranged in a honeycomb shape.
“Some scientists did not think silicene could exist”
Guy Le Lay, Physicist, University of Provence, Marseille, France
Le Lay and his colleagues made the breakthrough by growing silicene on a layer of metal: an competing team from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology came up with a method to produce silicene on a ceramic base
Silicene is a cousin of graphene, a sheet of carbon atoms which has gained a lot of press in the past few years. In graphene, electrons can move across the surface 100 times faster than over silicone. Le Lay’s method allows electrons to behave the same way over Silicene, and silicon might be easier to manufacture in large amounts.
All this could lead to devices, such as your smartphone, that are much faster and much thinner than what we have today.