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Researchers Create Glass Just 3 Atoms Thick

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the barely-a-glaze dept.

Science 160

sciencehabit writes "Researchers have created the world's thinnest pane of glass. The glass, made of silicon and oxygen, formed accidentally when the scientists were making graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon, on copper-covered quartz. They believe an air leak caused the copper to react with the quartz, which is also made of silicon and oxygen, producing a glass layer with the graphene. The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional. The team notes that the structure 'strikingly resembles' a diagram drawn by a glass theorist attempting to unravel its structure back in 1932. Such ultra-thin glass could be used in semiconductor or graphene transistors." See Nano Letters for an abstract (and another picture) to the paywalled article.

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Just wait until Apple hear about this (5, Funny)

Hieronymus Howard (215725) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914205)

And in related news, iPad 4 rumored to be just 2mm thick.

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914345)

And in related news, iPad 4 rumored to be just 2mm thick.

Too fat. I'm waiting for the iPad 5, rumoured to be 5 atoms thick.

Sucker. (3, Funny)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914527)

I'll be spending my money on the iPad5S, four atoms and a suspended quark thick! Have fun wasting your money!

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (1)

Sinn3d (1594333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914901)

Just imagine the amount of iPad/phones/4/5/X's prototypes they will lose/misplace then...

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915563)

Don't dismiss the injury liability associated with this product. Knock it off the bistro table, and it's likely to take your barrista's toes off! (the pointy-end of a razor blade is about 2um wide ... a veritable brick, by comparison.)

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (1)

zrbyte (1666979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914359)

Don't you mean 2 mm thin?

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915515)

No, thick. It'll be obsolete [complex.com] by the time you hear about it.

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915035)

I just don't understand why they make them so thin. Thin brittle things tend to snap in half like crackers.

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915123)

exactly.

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915657)

Style, baby, style...

Re:Just wait until Apple hear about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915097)

Nope, that's the Apple... I mean Mapple Void [youtube.com] .

Serious question: (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915793)

What's the chemical difference between regular glass and Gorilla Glass? How thin could you make Gorilla Glass? How strong woud it be at its thinnest?

Re:Serious question: (2)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915999)

Gorilla Glass is made out of gorillas, like Girl Scout cookies.

Re:Serious question: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916165)

Girl Scout cookies are made out of gorillas?

Re:Serious question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916311)

Girl scout cookies are made out of gorillas? You coulda fooled me.

Two-dimensional? (5, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914259)

The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

Re:Two-dimensional? (5, Funny)

DSS11Q13 (1853164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914309)

Perhaps it just had a bland personality?

Re:Two-dimensional? (2)

littlebigbot (2493634) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915483)

No real character development.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914323)

This must be one of those theoretical physicist jokes, like a spherical cow.

Re:Two-dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914899)

spherical cow

My ex-wife?

Re:Two-dimensional? (5, Informative)

tungstencoil (1016227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914371)

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

Someone posted that same criticism in the article. Here is someone's reply (again, from the comments). I'm not a chemist or physicist, but what they say sounds reasonable:

Hi Heather - fair enough, it's not 2D as in the mathematical concept, but 2D has a physical meaning as well - the thinnest version of a material. Because the silicon and oxygen atoms don't lay flat, glass needs a minimum of three layers of atoms (two silicon and one oxygen) to form a chemically stable sheet. Inside some of these technically 3D ultrathin materials, the electrons behave like their world is two dimensional.

Re:Two-dimensional? (2)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914593)

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

Someone posted that same criticism in the article. Here is someone's reply (again, from the comments). I'm not a chemist or physicist, but what they say sounds reasonable:

Hi Heather - fair enough, it's not 2D as in the mathematical concept, but 2D has a physical meaning as well - the thinnest version of a material. Because the silicon and oxygen atoms don't lay flat, glass needs a minimum of three layers of atoms (two silicon and one oxygen) to form a chemically stable sheet. Inside some of these technically 3D ultrathin materials, the electrons behave like their world is two dimensional.

Ok, I can accept that.

Re:Two-dimensional? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915129)

Ok, I can accept that.

I can't. It reeks of a wanker shifting the goalpost around at his own pleasure as the rebuttal reaches him (or more commonly her for this kind of problem) -- the very opposite of science.

Re:Two-dimensional? (2, Insightful)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916133)

The concept of 2D is usable in more than just a mathematical context. In other situations it just means "planar".

The reek you're experiencing is a matter of your own perception rather than something objective. If you over-apply your areas of knowledge, you're being a nerd. A thing is "wrong" if it doesn't conform to the systems you know? You're probably just ignorant of other systems.

Re:Two-dimensional? (0, Flamebait)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915089)

Inside some of these technically 3D ultrathin materials, the electrons behave like their world is two dimensional.

Nonsense. Is one single atom zero-dimensional?

Even one single electron has a measurable size, and is a three-dimensional object.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915319)

Haha, no, electrons are point particles.

Re:Two-dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915545)

you don't need to have some philosophically rigorous definition to every useful concept you decide. Whatever you do in whatever field you work in, I'm sure you use actively similar jargon. Hell, you speak english, Until you fix that, fuck off asshole.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914417)

Molecularly

Re:Two-dimensional? (4, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914481)

I believe they're calling it two dimensional because it's the minimum thickness possible, so for practical purposes, the thickness is equal to a single point. You can argue semantics all you want, but if you were to "travel" on a glass sheet, you would only be able to go along the X axis or Y axis - there is no ability to travel along a Z axis that is only a single point.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915519)

Thats just it atoms have measurable sizes therefore it cant be a single point.

To put it in perspective if you look at the solar system from the side since it is only one planet thick then it is only a point.

Atoms have orbits wuth measurable distancesunderstanding those distance is a huge part of engineering on that level.

It can never be 2D. Thinking it as such limits understanding.

Re:Two-dimensional? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915719)

Yes, atoms have a measurable size and all that, but from a *practical* perspective, it's a single point in thickness. As another posted quoted, the atoms behave as if they're in a two dimensional environment. Mathematical concepts don't always translate well into the physical world, but it helps to think of something as being two dimensional if it behaves as if its truly two dimensional.

Re:Two-dimensional? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914779)

Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

You're talking about euclidean space, they're talking about crystal structure. They've built an n * n * 1 array of molecules, if you like. If you can't spot the isomorphism between that and an n * n array, you might want to steer clear of any IQ tests...

Re:Two-dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914803)

It isn't 2 Dimensional PERIOD, it is in the lowest possible width for it itself which makes it 2 dimensional.

It is like saying paper is 2 dimensional because any thinner and it would become useless as a macroscale object for writing on.
Context is key here.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915767)

It isn't 2 Dimensional PERIOD

Why not? Is the space we live in not 3 dimensional if there are higher spatial dimensions?

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914823)

The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

Really? Graphene is 0.34 nm thick, and I'm quite certain that is a 2 dimensional material. In terms of graphene it's 3 dimensional after 3 layers. So the measurable thickness argument isn't valid

Re:Two-dimensional? (4, Insightful)

koolguy442 (888336) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915245)

The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

Really? Graphene is 0.34 nm thick, and I'm quite certain that is a 2 dimensional material. In terms of graphene it's 3 dimensional after 3 layers. So the measurable thickness argument isn't valid

Graphene is most certainly not .34 nm thick. What you are quoting is the equilibrium spacing between one graphene sheet and the next in crystalline graphite. The true "thickness" of graphene is hard to gauge, actually. If you take the standard model of quantum mechanics, the carbon atoms within graphene are point particles, and therefore have no thickness. It is reasonable, then, to measure the extent of the electron clouds from the carbon. Since the electron clouds are statistical formulations, they theoretically extend to infinity. However, because I'm a materials scientist and not some fancy physicist with a deep, quantitative understanding of electron orbital theory, I would say a good guess is to say that the radius of the electron cloud around a particular atom is about equal to half the bond length between one carbon and the next. In this case, about 0.071 nm.

So if I were pressed to give an answer as to the thickness of a graphene sheet, not that it would generally matter in any context I'd think of, I'd call it 0.142 nm thick.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

Onymous Coward (97719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916241)

Since the electron clouds are statistical formulations, they theoretically extend to infinity.

That's always a fun idea to mull over.

Re:Two-dimensional? (4, Informative)

koolguy442 (888336) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915127)

The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

Your question can be answered in two ways. First, in the materials science community, it's common to denote a material or chunk of material that has a very high aspect ratio, for instance very large in one or two dimensions and small in size on the order of the atomic scale in the remaining directions as effectively one- and two-dimensional. In fact, quantum dots are thought of in materials science as generally zero-dimensional, even though they most certainly have more than one atom (and even if they comprised a single atom, the electron cloud extends in three dimensions). So, as far as the materials science and electron microscopy fields are concerned, this is two-dimensional.

Second, you tend to get your paper published in fancier journals and grab more headlines by having sensational things such as 2D (in this case) or quantum or some such buzzword in your title these days.

Re:Two-dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915137)

Actually, in classical crystallography this is called 2+1 dimensional: It is *infinite* in 2 dimensions and finitely extends into 1 additional dimension. So shortening this to two dimensional is not completely wrong. It is understood that the dimensionality only pertains to the lattice, not to the whole object. I would recommend that you learn the lingo before flaming on the internet.

Unfortunately the notion of x+y dimensionality is nowadays used by the incommensurate crystallographers, that many people don't understand what you say when you talk about a 2+1 dimensional material/module.

Disclamer: IAAC.

Re:Two-dimensional? (5, Funny)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915165)

It's two dimensional, in that the graph of the atomic bonds is a flat, 2 dimensional graph. That's not "a different definition ... than the rest of us", that's called context. It's the definition a chemist would normally use. If you're trying to prove your brilliance by pointing out that the whole universe has nothing physical that is infinitely thin, sorry, but we stopped giving away Nobel prizes for that. At least four people basically modded you insightful for pointing out that atoms are not infinitely small - that makes Slashdot clearly three dimensional, because we have something infinitely thick around here.

Re:Two-dimensional? (4, Informative)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915199)

From a post by the author at TFA:
"Inside some of these technically 3D ultrathin materials, the electrons behave like their world is two dimensional."

Re:Two-dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915359)

The same way my crayon drawing is two-dimensional.
Technically, the thickness of the crayon on the construction paper can be measured, but it is still a 2D drawing.

Re:Two-dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915679)

I think you have a different definition of "pedantic asshat" than the rest of us.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915899)

The glass is a mere three atoms thick — the minimum thickness of silica glass—which makes it two-dimensional.

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

The space it occupies is certainly 3 dimensional but that doesn't stop it from having properties that only exist in 2 dimensions, such as: if you take this bit off the "top" it is also missing from the "bottom"... To a scientist/researcher, this is an important distinction when the applications all come from combining layers of certain materials. Would you say the visible surface of a piece of paper is a 3 dimensional one? You could answer yes, and you would be pedantically correct, but for any practical purpose the surface is referred to as 2 dimensional.

Re:Two-dimensional? (1)

iinlane (948356) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916033)

It's not two dimensional if it has a measurable thickness, which you stated in that same sentence. Unless you have a different definition of "two dimensional" than the rest of us.

It's two dimensional in sense that the third dimension is insignificantly small relative to other two dimensions e.g. it's flat. Also keep in mind that flat does not mean planar, for example earth is flat in spherical coordinates (r=const).

OH yay (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914313)

More glass cellphones with easy to break screens and backs!

Re:OH yay (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914373)

More glass cellphones with easy to break screens and backs!

Easy?!? I've pounded on these things with my finger when they don't .. do .. what .. I .. effing .. want I assume you are wearing metal gauntlets, Sir Lumpy of Oatmealshire.

How tall are you? (1)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914485)

You must have never dropped an iPhone 4/S from a foot up on something that isn't memory foam.

Re:How tall are you? (2)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914909)

My wife dropped hers from chest height, (Probably around 4 feet, she's a fairly tall woman) onto a a train track rail. We were fully expecting to have our next stop be the AT&T store, but the phone was completely undamaged. I'm not saying they're indestructible, but they seem study enough for day to day use.

Re:How tall are you? (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916123)

You must have never dropped an iPhone 4/S from a foot up on something that isn't memory foam.

Try leaving it on top of the car and then driving away -- hearing a clatter -- thinking 'um where's the phone?' and going back to find it -- fully functional, just some case scratches. Done it not, once, but twice.

BTW, there's some great news on Alzheimers Research in a following news post. Hope they get this sorted before I really need it. Ok.. I have the phone, but where's the car?

Re:OH yay (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914525)

I usually have to drop mine from 4 feet up onto tile to break them. I'm not sure what could be done to make them survive that reliably and still fit in my pocket.

Re:OH yay (1)

Phics (934282) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914875)

Usually?!? How many phones do you go through, man?

Re:OH yay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915449)

Engineering something to survive that reliably isn't that hard, but you need to make certain concessions on things like screen size, or the size of the bezel around the screen.

Case in point, I have an LG C710h. Known as the Aloha in the US, and the Shine Plus in Canada. I cannot count the number of times I have dropped that phone from varying heights... the most egregious such fall was a fall from a 3rd floor balcony, bouncing off the plastic edge of a swimming pool, and a dip in the drink, recovered a couple of minutes later by a plucky 10-year old who was swimming at the time, and heard me shout something that wasn't repeatable in polite company. The only outside damage to the phone was a bit of a scar on one of the corners. The phone still works, and while I am considering replacing it, it's not because it's broken, it's because the 600MHz processor in it is a bit sluggish after I upgraded it to Gingerbread.

I've no doubt that if it had landed on the concrete instead of the flexible plastic, the phone would have been done for, but I'm equally certain that an iPhone would never have survived the drop. You *can* engineer something to survive a drop like that, but you need to make certain concessions that Apple isn't willing to make.

posting anon because I don't want to undo moderation.

Re:OH yay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38916185)

Make the screens from transparent aluminum [wikipedia.org] instead of curved glass.

Re:OH yay (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914671)

I'm thinking that the tract-home builders will start using this new glass for the windows in the cheapass houses they build...

Re:OH yay (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915313)

Considering they are sandwiched in graphene, that might actually be better than modern windows. I don't think graphene transmits heat very well across the plain.

Re:OH yay (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915459)

How about sound though? When we put in the new dual-pane windows at the previous house we had a marked drop in external sound inside the house.

As close together as many modern tract homes are, I wouldn't want to hear my neighbor fart like I fear would be the case.

Re:OH yay (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915915)

That's why I want a Razr -- gorilla glass front and kevlar back. Too bad you have to get on T-Mobile to get one, though :(

Also? (0)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914343)

"...an air leak caused the copper to react with the quartz, which is also made of silicon and oxygen,"

"Also"?

Copper is not made of silicon and oxygen. Graphite is not made of silicon and oxygen. What do you mean by "also"?

Re:Also? (3, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914395)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartz [wikipedia.org] "It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon_dioxide [wikipedia.org] "Silica is used primarily in the production of glass for windows, drinking glasses, beverage bottles, and many other uses."

Glass and quartz.

Re:Also? (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914739)

Glass and quartz.

Glass that consists of nothing other than silicon and oxygen-- chemically known as "silica"-- is referred to as "quartz".

When they say they grew the material in "quartz" tubes, they mean: tubes made of silica glass. (Mineralogists reserve the word for only crystalline silica, but when they say a quartz tube, it's quartz glass, i.e. silica, not the mineral.) When they say that the substrate was "copper-covered quartz" they mean: "copper-covered silica glass". When they say they made glass consisting of two atoms of oxygen and one atom of silicon, they mean: silica glass.

So: they're saying that silica glass is silicon and oxygen, and, also, so is silica glass.

Re:Also? (2)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914817)

Quartz has a regular crystal structure, glass doesn't.

Quartz Re:Also? (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915101)

"Quartz has a regular crystal structure, glass doesn't."

If you're a mineralogist. Try looking up "quartz glass" or "fused quartz" in google.

Re:Quartz Re:Also? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915849)

Ok, so there are several "isomers" of silica? Don't they all have different properties? What's the problem with distinguishing between them? I don't see how making this distinction is very different than making the distinction between diamond and graphene.

Re:Also? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914413)

Quartz

Re:Also? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914445)

"The glass, made of silicon and oxygen"

and

"quartz, which is also made of silicon and oxygen".

Not that hard.

A new property of graphene... (1)

plerner (2459036) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914355)

it can also create very thin glass! Go graphene!

Re:A new property of graphene... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914565)

it can also create very thin glass! Go graphene!

Computer! I bring up the molecular structure for Transparent Grapheneium!

We miss you, Mr. Scott

I hate to break it to them... (5, Funny)

Shoten (260439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914363)

...but I think an old landlord of mine managed to do this, many years ago.

Re:I hate to break it to them... (2)

Prod_Deity (686460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914543)

Wish I had mod points. Looks like we had the same slum lord

So... (1)

NevergoldMel (1210176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914387)

How long before they broke it?

Serendipity (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914401)

Serendipity showing its hand in science once again.

This is just great! (2)

Haxagon (2454432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914447)

Now I'll have to keep kids from breathing on my windows, much less throwing a baseball through them!

You know what they say... (2)

nairnr (314138) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914449)

Those people in atomic glass houses really shouldn't throw anything!

Are there any practical applications? (0)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914463)

While it might sound all cool and stuff to make glass that thin, is there any practical applications for it? Or is this just one of those weird inventions that serves no real purpose but to satisfy intellectual or scientific curiosity?

Re:Are there any practical applications? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914547)

While you post comments, do you read the summary at all? Or do you just read the first few letters and decide to post your thoughts?

"Such ultra-thin glass could be used in semiconductor or graphene transistors."

Re:Are there any practical applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914607)

Ah cmon, that sentence was SIX whole sentences into the summary. You can't expect someone to read that much before posting something stupid.

Re:Are there any practical applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915661)

tl;dr

Re:Are there any practical applications? (1)

daktari (1983452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914577)

I'm sure we'll invent something for this invention.

Re:Are there any practical applications? (1)

imboboage0 (876812) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914627)

I'm thinking it could be used as an insulator sandwiched inside of something. Don't know of any actual uses like that, but I'm sure someone else can come up with one.

Re:Are there any practical applications? (4, Insightful)

mattr (78516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914677)

It is said the most amazing discoveries come from a scientist saying "gee that's funny..."

By accidentally producing this very cool new material they have according to the abstract made the first electron microscopy of glass, allowed by this very thin layer being supported by but not bonded to the underlying graphite. And from the amazing picture they took, which amazingly resembles drawings made by a glass theorist 80 years ago, they were able to make calculations showing that the weak van der waals force is what's keeping this thing stable.

It is a totally awesome thing they found and probably gives them whole new ideas about how to grow thin 2d structures. Just a week ago there was another bit of news about awesome 2d ice channels in graphite that open and close to keep helium from going through them. Sounds like there are tons of totally awesome things that are possible in these crenulated 2d realms and graphite is helping us discover them.

Perhaps someone else here can theorize about what it all means.

Re:Are there any practical applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915561)

And now, it will be patented and they're years of research into the production of minimal thickness glass will be rewarded...huh? They weren't trying to do this? Oh, nevermind.

Re:Are there any practical applications? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915261)

Screens for the next generation of iPads?

Lightsabers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915451)

Being 3mm thick, it can cut things.
Being glass, should be transparent.
Add a handle and a LED so you can see it (and don't cut yourself) and you might have your very own light saber.

So, is it worth somethin' to ya? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38914735)

....or should I just punch up 'Clear'?

If it's three atoms thick... (0)

idbeholda (2405958) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914751)

It isn't two dimensional. Period. In fact, anything with mass in the universe (and I'm willing to bet money on it) is three dimensional. The only exception to this are the members of Westboro Baptist Church, but that kinda goes without saying.

Re:If it's three atoms thick... (3, Insightful)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914871)

If I draw a picture on a piece of paper, we call that drawing two-dimensional despite the fact that the graphite and pulp that is formed with have thickness. Likewise, if a crystal only grows along a plane (rather than in three dimensions), then that crystalline structure is two-dimensional, even though the crystal itself is a three dimensional object. This is the same thing, the sheet of glass is three-dimensional, but the structure of the amorphous solid is two-dimensional.

Re:If it's three atoms thick... (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914973)

This was already said and responded to. Apparently the material is (obviously) not mathematically two dimensional, but there's also a physical concept of 2D which involves a material having reached its absolute minimum thinness. The molecules in glass are three atoms thick, therefore the thinnest possible glass is three atoms thick. According to the physical definition of 2D, this material is.

Only a few more years... (2)

eternaldoctorwho (2563923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914755)

...until transparent aluminum!

Re:Only a few more years... (1)

Obble (1680532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915713)

Transparent Aluminum is already invented. I have a vague memory of it on slashdot because of the link to Star Trek 4.

quick google will show this http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727130814.htm [sciencedaily.com]

There's got to be a way... (0)

genghisjahn (1344927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38914791)

...to work in a "transparent aluminum" joke and get another +5 funny out of this. Think damnit, think!

Re:There's got to be a way... (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916145)

In an earlier version of the script, the crew travel back in time to rescue the sperm whale, rather than the humpback whale, but due to an unfortunate communications error they end up trying to make a very small glass tank...

Feynman diagram (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915009)

this would be great for testing refraction of monochromatic light in terms of QED.

MOS transistors? (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915027)

Might this be a good for improving MOS transistors (gate/channel insulator)?

Hello computer... (1)

micahjc (615671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915059)

A keyboard! How quaint.

Pane of glass or coating? (1)

AbrasiveCat (999190) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915239)

Not having access to the full article I can't tell, but there is a big difference between coating a copper layer (on silica) with another layer of very thin silica and a pane of glass, which I would think is a stand alone structure. Anyone know? Still quite neat.

Silicon and Oxygen? (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38915249)

Sounds like the glass is half full to me.

Re:Silicon and Oxygen? (1)

zammer990 (2225956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38916173)

1/3 full actually, the tetrahedra that make up silica glass are 2/3 silica.

They can't Patent this right ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38915701)

They didnt invent it and its not real because it is only 2D so it cant exist,
you cant patent something like that... right ? right ?

Did I mention I have been up over 24 hours ?
w.. wat ?
who?

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