Wonder Material Graphene Gets a “3D” Cousin

on Wednesday, Jan. 22nd

This is going to get a bit technical, so hang in there.

Scientists at the U.S Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered that sodium bismuthate “can exist as a form of quantum matter,” that acts a lot like the wonder material graphene.

Graphene, as you might recall, is now understood to be both a superconductor and a supercapacitor. Which means that it is really, really good at passing along electricity and storing it. One of the big benefits of graphene: it is super thin. We’re talking about measuring in terms of atoms.

That’s also an engineering obstacle: building real-world objects with almost 2D materials can be a bit tricky. Which is why researchers are excited about the sodium bismuthate discoveries. They’ve found out that this material exhibits graphene’s conducting qualities while having a bulkier “3D” profile. The material is classified as a “topological insulator.”

Topological insulators also possess a unique electronic structure, in which bulk electrons behave like those in an insulator while surface electrons behave like those in graphene.

Sodium bismuthate isn’t a terribly stable material, so don’t go looking for it to show up in an Apple product introduction video any time soon, but the discovery opened the door to deeper research into new materials. The short version: the edge of science is accelerating towards what will very likely be a new materials revolution. Every advance gets us that much closer.

Via: Science Daily

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