These iron curtains are very, very sheer.

These iron curtains are very, very sheer.

Materials Science, processes, Uncategorized
Recently, a group of researchers in Dresden, Germany found a way to make one-atom-thick sheets of iron. It wasn't what they had set out to do, but they were alert enough to see this as the intriguing discovery it was rather than an annoying byproduct to be cleaned up. Thin metal films are used as coatings or wrappings (aluminum foil, for example), components in optical and laboratory instruments, and as chemical sensors and catalysts. For a lot of high-tech applications, including high-density recording media and electronic devices, the thinner the film, the better. The ultimate thin film would be a sheet one atom thick — a monolayer. Carbon monolayers, known as graphene, have been around for a few years, and researchers have been busy exploring the unusual properties of these…
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The Art of the Possible

The Art of the Possible

Materials Science, Uncategorized
I've been intending to start a lay-person's version of my weekly postings on the American Chemical Society website. Several of my Twitter followers have mentioned that they are impressed, but confused, by these tech-heavy synopses, written for an audience of professional chemists. I thought I might wait for a week with an "accessible" topic, like medieval bones or counterfeit currency, but I decided that I might as well just jump in and start today. I really picked a doozy of a week to start. This week's post deals with an energy minimization study of silica- and Germania-based zeolites. Say what? OK, let's start with "zeolites". These are inorganic materials, some found in nature, some made in a lab or a factory. If you're going to get really picky about it,…
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