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The First Free-standing 2D Metal Goldene Challenges Graphene’s Title


Graphene is the iconic atom-thin material made of carbon that was popular because it is incredibly strong, thin, flexible, lightweight, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. Further experiments have proven even more amazing properties and the material has begun adopting in a range of fields, such as shoes, electronics, solar panels, displays, clothing, helmets, bullet-proof armor, and aircraft.

Goldene is considered a gilded cousin of graphene and it is also a new wonder material that is ready to steal graphene’s thunder. Created by researchers at Linköping University in Sweden, goldene is the world’s thinnest gold leaf with only one atom thin. Goldene switches gold’s regular properties from its 3D bulk form being one of the best conductors around.

Goldene gets new properties because, in its 2D form, the atoms get to free bonds, meaning it could become a catalyst for converting carbon dioxide, producing hydrogen or valuable chemicals, and purifying water. Not only that, electronics also could benefit in case it would take less gold to make them.

However, preparing goldene is not easy as graphene as gold atoms tend to clump together making it hard to flatten them out into 2D sheets. The researchers used a material with atomic monolayers of silicon sandwiched between titanium carbide and coated it in gold. Later, the thin silicon layer was replaced by gold when it was heated to high temperatures.

The difficulty is how to get the goldene out of the sandwich. To do so, a chemical called Murakami’s reagent, used as part of an old Japanese blacksmithing technique, is used to etch away carbon residues. The goldene is exposed after being used in low concentrations for up to two months. Finally, it’s added with a surfactant, which forms a protective barrier between goldene and the surrounding liquid, to stop the sheets from sticking together.

According to the Linköping researchers, goldene might also be promising in applications with gold nanoparticles. For now, the team is seeking better ways to sieve goldene from the solution used to make it and its potential applications Furthermore, they also plan to continue investigating other precious metals to find which ones could be flattened into two dimensions in similar ways.

The research was published in the journal Nature Synthesis.
Article Source: Linköping University
Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay