Not one to let graphene hog the spotlight, a team of scientists out of Aix-Marseille Univeristy have successfully synthesized germanene. It is being called the 2D cousin of graphene, and is made up of a single layer of germanium atoms.

What’s the big deal? The material is expected to have great electrical and optical properties. If so, it will be integrated into the electronics industry of the future. No, it won’t make the iPhone 6 Plus fit in your pocket, but there are some great applications for the future.

The latest research is being published in today’s Institute of Physics and German Physical Society’s New Journal of Physics. I know one thing germanene can make smaller. It can start with the title of that journal.

First theorized in 2009, germanene has remained elusive for scientists. Graphene has stolen the spotlight, while the 2D materials have been left in the corner to be synthesized. The method for germanene is depositing single germanium atoms onto a substrate under high temperatures and in a vacuum. Not exactly normal conditions.

Alongside the European breakthrough was a Chinese team that found you could synthesize the material on a platinum substrate. This study found that gold could be used as the substrate. Sorry Goldline, we are going to need those coins. We have electronics to build.

Study co-author, Professor Guy Le Lay of Aix-Marseille University, described the find.

“Following our synthesis of graphene’s other cousin, silicene, we thought it natural to try and produce germanene in the same way, by depositing germanium onto a silver substrate,” Le Lay said.

“This attempt failed, so I decided to switch to a gold substrate, having remembered my old work from my PhD thesis, in which gold was grown onto a germanium substrate. I thought it would be worth trying the other way around.”

How will this help the electronics industry? The material could open up the realm of quantum computing. I know, the collective groans of what’s been promised. We hear words like quantum computing, and get a watch that can share heartbeats with others. Not exactly the leap we all want, but let’s take the optimistic road.

Researchers are pushing forward with the material that will be needed to open up this industry, and if takes a little more time, then let’s let it ride out. The uses of that type of computing are endless. So long as SkyNet doesn’t pop up, I say keep on with the discoveries in graphene and germanene.

The full report and foreword can be read here.

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