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article imagePhosphorene is a graphene alternative

By Tim Sandle     Mar 13, 2014 in Science
Sheets of ultra-thin phosphorus could lead to faster semiconductor electronics, according to a new study. The material presents an alternative to the 'wonder material' graphene.
Phosphorus has joined carbon as the only elements to be separated into sheets each a single atom thick, according to Nature. This was announced by researchers at the recent meeting of the American Physical Society. Researchers in the US and China have successfully isolated two or three atomic layers, though not yet isolating a single phosphorene layer. The process for extraction is similar to graphene isolation where an adhesive layer is used to “peel” off atoms (called mechanical exfoliation).
The newly fabricated ultra-thin material, dubbed phosphorene, could prove superior to its popular carbon counterpart for use in next-generation electronics. "Phosphorene" — which has a similar structure to carbon-based graphene but is made of phosphorus atoms — is a natural semiconductor and so may be better at turbocharging the next generation of computers. The new material has already been used to make rudimentary transistors.
Prior to this announcement, only graphene, a single layer mesh of carbon atoms, had similar properties. Graphene is considered the new "wonder material," due its durability and lightness. Graphene can be described as a one-atom thick layer of graphite.
Physicists have been studying black phosphorus, a layered material held together by weak chemical bonds, since the 1960s. But it was only last year that they began trying to isolate single layers.
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