Silicon Atoms Caught Dancing
Dancing is an integral part of many cultures as the rhythmic motions are given significance, while also just being fun. In science though, dancing is not so common, but researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have caught silicon atoms dancing on a sheet of graphene.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon that many researchers are looking at because of its many unique and special properties. Among those properties is its two-dimensional structure which some researchers want to exploit by placing other atoms on it to trigger specific reactions. This is what the researchers were working on when they found that some of the atoms in a silicon cluster were jumping between positions. Thankfully the researchers do know why this was happening; the energy of the electron microscope they were using was allowing the atoms to jump.
This discovery will likely have some interesting impacts on the potential use of graphene as a host material for other atoms and molecules. As the structure of the other material may spontaneously change, these changes must be considered when designing new electronics, optoelectronics, and catalysis that are such a hybrid material.
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory