Scientists have discovered a new material than has the same electronic properties as two-dimensional graphene, but in a stable 3D form.
Peeled from graphite, the super thin, wonder material graphene is so insanely conductive, researchers have recently created electricity just by dragging drop of seawater across it. But working only in two dimensions means it can’t really be used in complex hardware just yet. But thanks to its 3D form, this newly discovered material -- cadmium arsenide, Cd3As2 -- could be more easily shaped into practical devices like transistors, sensors, and electrodes.
One of the hallmarks of graphene -- made up of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon atoms -- is the weird behavior of its electrons. When confined to the thin layer of regularly spaced carbon atoms, the lightweight particles act as if they have no mass at all, allowing them to zip through the material much faster than usual.
Earlier studies showed how a sodium bismuth compound can mimic graphene, but turns to powder when exposed to air. Building on that research, a large international team led by University of Oxford’s Yulin Chen showed how cadmium arsenide provides the same electricity-transmitting properties but in a much more stable form.
“We think this family of materials can be a good candidate for everyday use,” Chen says in a news release. “We can use them as a platform to create and explore even more exotic states of matter; when you open a door, you find there are many other doors behind it.”
The team also included researchers from Stanford, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Cadmium arsenide is also being investigated by two other groups: one led by Princeton University researchers and the other led by researchers in Dresden, Germany.
This work was published in Nature Materials last month.
Image: Greg Stewart/SLAC