Silicon nanosheets wrapped in plastic as an alternative to graphene
ITO Replacement - Graphene

According to Wikipedia, silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth's shell, based on the mass fraction (ppmw), after oxygen. Silicon is a semimetal and an element semiconductor.

Elemental silicon can be obtained on a laboratory scale by reduction, starting from silicon dioxide or silicon tetrafluoride, with base metals. It is preferably used in metallurgy, photovoltaics (solar cells) and microelectronics (semiconductors, computer chips).

Commercially available silicon is either fine-grained powder or individual, large pieces. High-purity silicon for use in solar modules or semiconductor components is usually produced in the form of thin slices of single crystals, so-called silicon wafers. However, there are only a handful of companies in the world that produce raw silicon because the costs for the initial investment and long construction times for the necessary furnaces are quite high.

Why is silicon so interesting?

Similar to carbon, silicon also forms two-dimensional networks that are only one atomic layer thick. Like graphene, it has outstanding optoelectronic properties and could therefore be used in nanoelectronics, such as bendable displays.

Now, for the first time, researchers at the Munich Chair of Macromolecular Chemistry have succeeded in embedding the silicon nanosheets in plastic and thus protecting them from decomposition. At the same time, the nanosheets are modified in the same step and thus protected against oxidation. It is the first nanocomposite based on silicon nanosheets that is UV-resistant and easy to process. Further information on this research success can be found on the TUM website.