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A Sturdy 3D Material Behaves Similar to Graphene


Image credit: Illustration depicting fast-moving, massless electrons inside the 3D material, cadmium arsenide / Greg Stewart/SLAC. 

Recently researchers have found a new material with the same electronic properties like two-dimensional graphene, but it is in a stable 3D form.

Being peeled from graphite, this extremely thin material graphene is surprisingly conductive. Therefore, scientists have succeeded in creating electricity by simply drawing drop of seawater across it. If in its form of two dimensions, it is impossible to be used in complex hardware. However, when it is in its 3D form, such material called as cadmium arsenide, Cd3As2 could be more easily shaped into the devices such as electrodes, sensors as well as transistors in a practical use.

The graphene is made up of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon atoms. One of its unique characters is the strange behavior of its electrons. If it is confined to the thin layer of carbon atoms which are spaced on a regular basis, the lightweight particles would work in the way that they have no mass at all so as to enable them to zip through the material at a faster speed than usual.

Previous researches have demonstrated the way in which a sodium bismuth compound is capable of mimicking graphene and if it is exposed to air, it would be turned to powder.

On the basis of these previous studies, Yulin Chen at the University of Oxford and his colleagues from Stanford, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory illustrated how cadmium arsenide is able to show the same electricity-transmitting characteristics but in a much more stable form.

As Yulin Chen mentioned in a news release, this family of materials could be widely utilized in daily life. Therefore, they could be used as a platform from which more exotic states of matter would be created and explored.

Apart from the work done by Yulin Chen’s team, there are two other groups from Princeton University and Dresden, Germany involved in investigation of cadmium arsenide. Their work was published in the latest edition of Nature Materials.

Source: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Journal reference: Liu, Z. K., et al. “A stable three-dimensional topological Dirac semimetal Cd3As2.” Nature materials (2014).