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Theory Developed for Making Graphene-like Films from Salts

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 01:47PM

Graphene is a very interesting material that has several curious characteristics, and some of them come from the material being just one atom thick. Ever since its discovery, researchers have been working to better understand graphene and to make other atom-thick materials, which could have useful properties for electronics. Now researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Rice University, and other institutions have crafted a theory to predict what it will take to produce graphene-like from salts.

Many salts, including the common sodium chloride, have a cubic molecule structure and ionic bonds between the atoms. It has been predicted and even observed in some salts that once they are comprised of few enough layers, they will spontaneously transform into a graphene-like structure. This process is called graphitization. These predictions and observations have been limited so far, because they have been for certain materials, but by leveraging the power of computer simulations, the researchers have created a general theory of how graphitization occurs. Now it is possible to predict the critical number of layers it will take for a salt made of the four alkali metals and the halogens to undergo graphitization. For sodium salts, the number is 11 layers, and for lithium salts it is between 19 and 27.

If this theory is proven accurate experimentally, it could open up a new route to producing ultrathin films and these films could have desirable properties for electronics. The researchers are also going to investigate other compounds, to see if more materials will undergo graphitization, resulting in new and intriguing properties.

Source: Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

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