Researchers have brought electrides into the nanoregime by synthesizing the first 2D electride material. Electrides are ionic compounds, which are made of negative and positive ions. But in electrides, the negative “ions” are simply electrons, with no nucleus. The electrons are very close to each other and very loosely bound, causing them to act as an electron gas. This electron gas gives electrides certain electrical properties, such as a high electrical mobility and rapid electrical transport, that are very attractive for electronics applications.
The researchers, led by Scott C. Warren, an assistant professor of applied physical sciences and chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, have published a paper on the demonstration of the 2D electride in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
“Layered electrides have very exciting electronic properties—for example, a conductivity much greater than that of graphene,” Warren told Phys.org. “In the crystal structure of a layered electride, a cloud of electrons is spread out into a flat two-angstrom-thick plane between slabs of atoms. The electrons can conduct through that flat cloud with few interactions with nearby atoms, allowing them to move very quickly.”
Potential applications include transparent conductors, battery electrodes, electron emitters, and catalysts for chemical synthesis.
“The potential application that excites us the most is in advanced batteries, which is the focus of our current collaboration with the Honda Research Institute,” Warren said. “There are other exciting potential applications too, for example as transparent conductive films. From an academic perspective, this work opens up synthetic routes to study 2D electrides experimentally and to test potential applications that we haven’t even considered yet.”
Edited from: Scientists create first 2-D electride