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One-atom-thick sheets could change computing

One-atom-thick sheets could change computing

This image by AlexanderAlUS shows a graphene sheet, which could now be cheaper to produce.

Scientists claim that a new method for creating materials in sheets that are just one-atom-thick could lead to breakthroughs in data and energy storage technologies, meaning bigger storage devices and longer-lasting batteries.

According to coverage of the discovery over on Reuters, quoting a report published in journal Science, the technique makes it significantly easier to create one-atom-thick sheets of different materials, including graphene sheets made from carbon.

Work has been done in the past on creating graphene, but the material - which is just one-atom-thick and around a hundred times stronger than steel - remains expensive and difficult to produce; something the researchers believe they may have solved.

The new method is claimed to be low-cost, while also resulting in extremely high yields of usable materials, but isn't just limited to producing sheets from carbon. Instead, the researchers claim they can use the technology to create single-atom sheets from a variety of elements, drastically changing their electrical and thermoelectric properties and potentially unlocking useful new materials.

While graphene in its current state may not completely replace silicon the semiconductor industry, according to IBM, this latest work could help find the materials and technologies that mean faster, longer-lasting electronic circuits in the future.

Are you pleased to see researchers coming up with potential new materials in this way, or will you only get excited when the technology gets commercialised? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

19 Comments

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K404 4th February 2011, 12:32 Quote
Whoa! I thought atomically flat was physically impossible????
llamafur 4th February 2011, 12:50 Quote
I saw this on NOVA science, quite amazing.
dunx 4th February 2011, 12:50 Quote
Non-quantum flat ?

LOL

dunx
MajorTom 4th February 2011, 13:15 Quote
Commercialised or not, this is very impressive indeed!
jrs77 4th February 2011, 13:26 Quote
Science is allways nice and dandy, but it's only the practical applications in commercial products that counts in the end.

If they can build something useful with this technology, then it might catch up some real interest and get more funds to improve the technology.
Money is not spend too much these days on science that has no practical value.
maximus09 4th February 2011, 13:26 Quote
weird that picture is moving when not focussed on it :S
Mraedis 4th February 2011, 13:27 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by K404
Whoa! I thought atomically flat was physically impossible????

Someone needs to look up on Graphene.

Coincidentally that's also where the image from the article came from.
aaron123d 4th February 2011, 15:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by maximus09
weird that picture is moving when not focussed on it :S

first thing i noticed bit spinny lol
benji2412 4th February 2011, 16:00 Quote
A complete rewording of someone elses article lol. Why not 1) link us to that at the start and 2) link me to the journal entry so I can read about this process that doesn't get described.
SMIFFYDUDE 5th February 2011, 04:30 Quote
Set the above picture as your desktop wallpaper and tile it, its mesmerizing.
D B 5th February 2011, 22:34 Quote
The comment about it's only useful if you can make something with it ... is exactly the kind of thinking that that stifles the research, that allows invention and fosters new technology ... technology that your using right now can trace it's roots to seemingly nonsense research
D B 5th February 2011, 22:37 Quote
Cthippo 6th February 2011, 11:13 Quote
Somebody want to fill me in on the chemistry of this? I thought C had a valence of 4 :?
Kaaa 6th February 2011, 11:52 Quote
You're right, c does have a valency of 4, but I'd assume it goes the same way as graphite - 3 bonds with a de-localised electron allowing the conduction of electricity. Feel free to correct me however, my Higher chemistry is a bit rusty these days...
Timmy_the_tortoise 6th February 2011, 15:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaaa
You're right, c does have a valency of 4, but I'd assume it goes the same way as graphite - 3 bonds with a de-localised electron allowing the conduction of electricity. Feel free to correct me however, my Higher chemistry is a bit rusty these days...

You're right. Graphene is just a single sheet of Graphite... or, in other words, Graphite is just lots of sheets of Graphene layered on-top of one another.
Gradius 6th February 2011, 17:12 Quote
100% invisible sheet!
Fizzban 6th February 2011, 19:52 Quote
That's fraking amazing! I can't wait to see what's done with this tech in the near future.
Sheiken 6th February 2011, 20:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SMIFFYDUDE
Set the above picture as your desktop wallpaper and tile it, its mesmerizing.

WHOA
BLC 9th February 2011, 12:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs77
Science is allways nice and dandy, but it's only the practical applications in commercial products that counts in the end.

If they can build something useful with this technology, then it might catch up some real interest and get more funds to improve the technology.
Money is not spend too much these days on science that has no practical value.

Charles Babbage's designs were considered grand and complex at the time; he never actually managed to build the Difference Engine in his own lifetime. Mostly, this was due to the enormous cost associated with it - it's an extraordinarily complicated piece of mechanics. However, modern computers all use the same fundamental design concepts as the mechanical Difference Engine: separate storage for program memory and data, separate I/O unit, instruction-based operation, conditional "jumps", etc.

Nobody else continued Babbage's work after his death, including the more advanced Analytical Engine he designed, because it was too complicated and expensive (he was also considered to be somewhat eccentric). It took 170 years before a fully functioning Difference Engine was actually built (completed in around 1990) - built to Babbage's original designs and 19th Century manufacturing tolerances. You know what? The damn thing works and is 100% accurate. It can run computations with more digits than the average pocket calculator can handle.

If we'd had that kind of computational power readily available 170 years ago, just try to imagine how much more advanced our computing technology would be now. Bear in mind that computers have only really been in widespread use for around 50-70 years, and look how far they have come: from ENIAC to Sandy Bridge processors.

*That* is why we fund pure science research, even if it has no immediate practical uses.
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