A collaboration between researchers at Stanford University and four universities in China yielded a material made of a single layer of tin atoms, that could be the world's first material to conduct electricity with 100% efficiency at room temperature. The material, called Stanene, is believed to be a rival to graphene and other two-dimensional materials like phosphorene, silicene or germanene, because it is believed to be so conductive as to allow flow of electricity without any heat loss.

The scientists created the mesh by vaporising tin in a vacuum and allowing the atoms to collect on a supporting surface of bismuth telluride. As a result, a two-dimensional honeycomb structure of tin atoms was made. Alas, the substrate and stanene interacted to disrupt the conditions that would have created the perfect conductor - so the team plans to use larger amounts of tin and an inert substrate to rule out interaction. In fact, not all researchers are even sure that the structure created at Stanford is indeed stanene. Direct measurements of the crystal arrangements only can confirm this but that will call for larger amounts of the material.

Stanene was speculated in the past to be a topological insulator at room temperature with electrons restricted to travel along the edges of the sheet without colliding with other electrons or atoms. The electrons in defined lanes have no speed limit. Stanene could increase the speed and lower the power needs of future generations of computer chips that operate at room temperature.

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