RMIT-led collaboration discovers new form of silicene that could revolutionise the electronics industry

A collaboration between RMIT, the Toyota Central R&D Laboratories and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has led to the discovery of a new form of silicene which is tipped to find use in an array of applications in the manufacturing industry.

Dr Michelle J.S. Spencer Image credit: www.rmit.edu.au
Dr Michelle J.S. Spencer Image credit: www.rmit.edu.au

Silicene is a two-dimensional nanomaterial that is classified as a nanosheet. This wonder material is similar to graphene, in that it is extremely thin and composed of atoms that are arranged in a honeycomb network showing unique properties highly suitable for applications in sensors, electronic devices and batteries.

Unfortunately, the use of silicene in high technology applications is prevented because of its instability under ambient conditions.

However, the new form of silicene – dubbed “wavy bilayer silicene” – is capable of displaying semiconducting properties while at the same time being resistant to oxidation.

Earlier findings by Dr Michelle Spencer from the School of Science, who led RMIT’s contribution to the project, suggested that that the full application of silicene is hindered not only by its instability under ambient conditions but also its high reactivity with oxygen.

“Our results gave some hints to help explain the conditions under which oxidation of silicene can occur. A number of factors, such as oxygen coverage or dose, as well as reaction temperature, significantly alter the degree of oxidation of silicone,” Ms Spencer said in her report published in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

“This explains why control of the process is highly desirable in order to extend the potential range for the use of silicene in nanoscale devices under a variety of conditions, including metal/oxide semiconductor devices.”

Based on these findings, the team synthesised and modelled the bilayer silicenes.

“Placing them between planar crystals of calcium fluoride and calcium disilicide made them highly resistant to oxidation, which opens up new avenues for it application,” it says in the press release by RMIT.

“Furthermore, the ability to modify the interfaces that sandwich the silicene enhances the applicability of the material.”

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

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