Guinness record: World's thinnest glass is just two atoms thick

Sep 12, 2013 by Syl Kacapyr
A microscopic photo of a sheet of glass only two atoms thick blends with an artist's conception to show the structural rendering. Credit: Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.

(Phys.org) —At just a molecule thick, it's a new record: The world's thinnest sheet of glass, a serendipitous discovery by scientists at Cornell and Germany's University of Ulm, is recorded for posterity in the Guinness Book of World Records.

The "pane" of glass, so impossibly thin that its individual silicon and are clearly visible via , was identified in the lab of David A. Muller, professor of applied and and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.

The work that describes direct imaging of this thin glass was first published in January 2012 in Nano Letters, and the Guinness records officials took note. The record will now be published in the Guinness World Records 2014 Edition.

Just two atoms in thickness, the glass was an accidental discovery, Muller said. The scientists had been making graphene, a two-dimensional sheet of in a chicken wire crystal formation, on copper foils in a quartz furnace. They noticed some "muck" on the graphene, and upon further inspection, found it to be composed of the elements of everyday glass, silicon and oxygen.

They concluded that an air leak had caused the copper to react with the quartz, also made of silicon and oxygen. This produced the glass layer on the would-be pure graphene.

Besides its sheer novelty, Muller said, the work answers an 80-year-old question about the fundamental structure of glass. Scientists, with no way to directly see it, had struggled to understand it: it behaves like a solid, but was thought to look more like a liquid. Now, the Cornell scientists have produced a picture of individual atoms of glass, and they found that it strikingly resembles a diagram drawn in 1932 by W.H. Zachariasen – a longstanding theoretical representation of the arrangement of atoms in glass.

"This is the work that, when I look back at my career, I will be most proud of," Muller said. "It's the first time that anyone has been able to see the arrangement of atoms in a glass."

What's more, two-dimensional glass could someday find a use in transistors, by providing a defect-free, ultra-thin material that could improve the performance of processors in computers and smartphones.

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More information: DOI: 10.1021/nl204423x

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User comments : 7

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SolidRecovery
1 / 5 (11) Sep 12, 2013
Wow, the theoretical amorphous structure of glass matches exactly to the SEM image. Impressive.
dan42day
2.2 / 5 (13) Sep 12, 2013
Now Motorola can build a Razr that really is thin enough to shave with!
DarkHorse66
4 / 5 (4) Sep 13, 2013
the theoretical amorphous structure of glass matches exactly to the SEM image. Impressive
With exactly the same coincidence the people were fascinated before one year already, because it's not completely http://www.thever...s-thick.

If you had actually READ the date of the article, you would noticed that it is dated September 12, 2013. In other words, JUST A DAY OLD!
DH66
PS It does pay to actually check links that you post!
DarkHorse66
3 / 5 (6) Sep 13, 2013
@Teech:
If you had been any less bright, you might not have failed to notice a few key things about this article:
1)The article quite plainly & openly states that this discovery was made last year & is NOT brand new: "The work that describes direct imaging of this thin glass was first published in January 2012 in Nano Letters, and..."
2)The whole point of the article is about the fact that the discovery is now entering the record books(Hint: this article is NOT about the discovery of the glass, It is about what is happening NOW to it):
"..,and the Guinness records officials took note. The record will now be published in the Guinness World Records 2014 Edition."
So just exactly are you complaining about?
3)You originally linked to the WRONG article (again), when you were complaining about how old the story was.
4)Not all people in this thread were members when the original article came out, nor does everybody read every article published here.
What was that about genius again?LOL,DH66

MikeBowler
1 / 5 (2) Sep 15, 2013
the work answers an 80-year-old question about the fundamental structure of glass. Scientists, with no way to directly see it, had struggled to understand it: it behaves like a solid, but was thought to look more like a liquid
so is glass liquid or solid? also is this glass of any use and what are its other properties besides being 2 atoms thick?
SolidRecovery
1 / 5 (10) Sep 20, 2013
so is glass liquid or solid? also is this glass of any use and what are its other properties besides being 2 atoms thick?


Solid, but the structure is not well well defined and is very random such as liquid. As for the possible uses, read the last paragraph in the article.
Jaybee Anne
1 / 5 (6) Oct 17, 2013
Indeed a great discovery! This would surely give Dr. Muller big money and fame. Thumbs up :)

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