Manufacturers and materials scientists are atwitter over graphene, a form of carbon one atom thick (or “two dimensional”) and arrayed in lattice-like sheets.
Graphene is more than 200 times stronger than steel by weight, an exceptional electrical conductor, is virtually transparent, and, if a sheet has no holes, impervious to other materials. No wonder electronics makers, outdoor-gear manufacturers and others are smitten.
In the world of two dimensions, graphene has been the whole game – until now.
TRENDPOST: Engineers at Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology have devised a way to customize the electrical properties of black phosphorus atoms. Black phosphorus – phosphorus that’s stable at room temperature – already had properties similar to graphene; being able to tailor its electrical profile makes it more flexible than graphene in applications from smart watches to solar panels.
Also, in August, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced progress in unlocking the electrical secrets of molybdenite, or molybdenum ore. In theory, one-atom sheets of it should have a range of useful electronic properties as well as being a first-rate lubricant. But, until now, no one had found a way to begin to understand how the metal worked.
These new materials will begin making their way into commercial devices before 2020.