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Science Technology

Researchers Create Glass Just 3 Atoms Thick 160

Posted by timothy
from the barely-a-glaze dept.
sciencehabit writes "Researchers have created the world's thinnest pane of glass. The glass, made of silicon and oxygen, formed accidentally when the scientists were making graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, on copper-covered quartz. They believe an air leak caused the copper to react with the quartz, which is also made of silicon and oxygen, producing a glass layer with the graphene. The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional. The team notes that the structure 'strikingly resembles' a diagram drawn by a glass theorist attempting to unravel its structure back in 1932. Such ultra-thin glass could be used in semiconductor or graphene transistors." See Nano Letters for an abstract (and another picture) to the paywalled article.
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Researchers Create Glass Just 3 Atoms Thick

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  • Two-dimensional? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Friday February 03, 2012 @10:17AM (#38914259) Journal

    The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

    It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

  • Serendipity (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @10:28AM (#38914401)

    Serendipity showing its hand in science once again.

  • by mattr (78516) <mattr.telebody@com> on Friday February 03, 2012 @10:46AM (#38914677) Homepage Journal

    It is said the most amazing discoveries come from a scientist saying "gee that's funny..."

    By accidentally producing this very cool new material they have according to the abstract made the first electron microscopy of glass, allowed by this very thin layer being supported by but not bonded to the underlying graphite. And from the amazing picture they took, which amazingly resembles drawings made by a glass theorist 80 years ago, they were able to make calculations showing that the weak van der waals force is what's keeping this thing stable.

    It is a totally awesome thing they found and probably gives them whole new ideas about how to grow thin 2d structures. Just a week ago there was another bit of news about awesome 2d ice channels in graphite that open and close to keep helium from going through them. Sounds like there are tons of totally awesome things that are possible in these crenulated 2d realms and graphite is helping us discover them.

    Perhaps someone else here can theorize about what it all means.

  • by pavon (30274) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:00AM (#38914871)

    If I draw a picture on a piece of paper, we call that drawing two-dimensional despite the fact that the graphite and pulp that is formed with have thickness. Likewise, if a crystal only grows along a plane (rather than in three dimensions), then that crystalline structure is two-dimensional, even though the crystal itself is a three dimensional object. This is the same thing, the sheet of glass is three-dimensional, but the structure of the amorphous solid is two-dimensional.

  • by koolguy442 (888336) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:25AM (#38915245)

    The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

    It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

    Really? Graphene is 0.34 nm thick, and I'm quite certain that is a 2 dimensional material. In terms of graphene it's 3 dimensional after 3 layers. So the measurable thickness argument isn't valid

    Graphene is most certainly not .34 nm thick. What you are quoting is the equilibrium spacing between one graphene sheet and the next in crystalline graphite. The true "thickness" of graphene is hard to gauge, actually. If you take the standard model of quantum mechanics, the carbon atoms within graphene are point particles, and therefore have no thickness. It is reasonable, then, to measure the extent of the electron clouds from the carbon. Since the electron clouds are statistical formulations, they theoretically extend to infinity. However, because I'm a materials scientist and not some fancy physicist with a deep, quantitative understanding of electron orbital theory, I would say a good guess is to say that the radius of the electron cloud around a particular atom is about equal to half the bond length between one carbon and the next. In this case, about 0.071 nm.

    So if I were pressed to give an answer as to the thickness of a graphene sheet, not that it would generally matter in any context I'd think of, I'd call it 0.142 nm thick.

  • by Onymous Coward (97719) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:29PM (#38916133) Homepage

    The concept of 2D is usable in more than just a mathematical context. In other situations it just means "planar".

    The reek you're experiencing is a matter of your own perception rather than something objective. If you over-apply your areas of knowledge, you're being a nerd. A thing is "wrong" if it doesn't conform to the systems you know? You're probably just ignorant of other systems.

  • by jdastrup (1075795) on Friday February 03, 2012 @02:41PM (#38918549)

    Next week, Ginsu sues Apple.

    No, it will be Apple that sues Ginsu.

    I still get a kick out of how they patented the magnetic connection for their power supplies, when my grandma's deep fryer had that exact same feature 30 years ago

  • Re:Sucker. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kenboldt (1071456) on Friday February 03, 2012 @04:13PM (#38919905) Homepage

    iPad X will be three atoms thick, with a protective coating of Higgs bosons on both sides, hand made by people in China with desktop LHCs.

    wouldn't they be SHCs?

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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