New study proves stability of ‘wonder material’ silicene

LONDON, Aug. 14 (PNA/Xinhua) — An international research team has shown that silicene can remain stable in the presence of oxygen, helping scientists further understand the fundamental properties of the two-dimensional material, it was announced Wednesday.

In a study published in this week’s British scientific journal 2D Materials, researchers showed that thick, multi-layers of silicene can be isolated from its parent material silicon, and remain intact when exposed to air for at least 24 hours.

Silicene is made from single, honeycomb-shaped layers of silicon that are just one atom thick. At the moment, silicene must be produced in a vacuum to avoid any contact with oxygen, which could completely destroy the formation of the single layers.

In this new study, an international team of researchers, based in Italy and France, fabricated multiple layers of silicene using a silver substrate kept at a temperature of 197 degrees Celcius and a solid silicon source, which was heated to 1,197 degrees Celcius. A total of 43 monolayers of silicene were deposited onto the substrate.

Once fabricated, the researchers observed that a very thin layer of oxidation had formed on top of the multi-layered stack of monolayers. However, it was shown that this preserved the integrity of the stack, acting like a protective layer. The stack of monolayers remained preserved for at least 24 hours in open air.

According to researchers, it is the first time that such a feat has been achieved and will allow scientists to further probe the material and exploit the properties that have made silicene a promising material in the electronics industry. (PNA/Xinhua)