Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: A pioneering study by U.S. researchers has led to the discovery that the humble metal tin could form the world`s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency in computer chips.
This new material has been given the name "stanene," by combining the Latin name for tin-stannum , with the suffix used in graphene, a material with similar useful electrical properties.
"Stanene could increase the speed and lower the power needs of future generations of computer chips, if our prediction is confirmed by experiments that are underway in several laboratories around the world," said the team leader, Shoucheng Zhang, a physics professor at Stanford and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES)
The important discovery is the result of ten years of research that Zhang and colleagues have been undertaking. They were working on a special class of materials known as topological insulators, which conduct electricity only on their outside edges or surfaces and not through their interiors.
When topological insulators are just one atom thick, their edges can conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency. Their calculations indicated that a single layer of tin would be a topological insulator at and above room temperature, and that adding fluorine atoms to the tin would extend its operating range to at least 100 degrees Celsius.