Meet graphene’s newest relative. Scientists have been theorising about its existence since 2013, but now it’s finally here in physical form: stanene, an intriguing new material made up of a one-atom thick mesh of tin. Just like its much-hyped cousin, graphene – which is made of one-atom thick layers of carbon – computer models predict that stanene could conduct electricity without heat loss.
In fact, theories predict that stanene could be the most efficient material ever made when it comes to conducting electricity. Being two-dimensional, the material allows electrons to zoom along the edges of the mesh in a single lane, bypassing the energy-sapping collisions that occur in three-dimensional materials to achieve 100 percent efficiency. And theoretically, it should work at room temperature.
“It’s surprising that it can work at such a high temperature,” one of the team, physicist Shou-Cheng Zhang from Stanford University in the US, told Charles Q. Choi at Scientific American back in 2013. “Scientists have looked for dissipationless transport of electricity for many years, but usually the systems we find only work under extreme conditions, either very low temperature or strong magnetic fields.”
Because stanene could potentially allow electrons to travel uninterrupted – collisions cause vibrations that generate heat and result in energy loss – wire made from this new material could carry electricity across great distances for long periods of time without energy loss. Imagine your smartphone, laptop, and chargers working for hours without ever getting hot. Source: Physicists produce world’s first sample of potential wonder-material: stanene