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Quantitative determination of atomic buckling of silicene by atomic force microscopy.

Research Highlight

Buckling measured in a ‘flat’ atomic sheet

© ROBERT BROOK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

© ROBERT BROOK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty

The three-dimensional buckling in the atomic structure of a sheet of silicon atoms known as silicene — the silicon equivalent of graphene — has been determined with a precision never achieved before.

Many elements form sheets that are just one atom thick. The most well-known example is graphene, which is a sheet of carbon atoms. While graphene is completely flat, other sheets have a buckled structure on the atomic level, which affects their electronic properties.

Now, a team led by a researcher from the Spanish National Research Council has used atomic force microscopy to measure this buckling in silicene to a sub-angstrom level.

This will allow researchers to investigate how the sheet structure is related to the electronic properties and could allow them to achieve exotic electronic properties by applying strain to the sheet.

The method can also be used to analyze other two-dimensional materials.

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  1. PNAS 117, 228-237 (2020). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1913489117
Institutions Share
Department of Physics, UB, Switzerland 0.83
Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (ICMM), CSIC, Spain 0.17

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