The worlds thinnest glass has just been discovered by accident and its so thin that you can see its molecular structure!
For some eighty two years since physicist W.H.Zachariasen first hypothesized and sketched the molecular structure of glass no one has known if his assumptions were correct, that was until recent work by scientists at Cornell University accidently discovered how to make the thinnest glass ever produced and are now able to able to investigate and verify whether Zachariasen’s sketch was indeed accurate.
The small pane of glass just two atoms wide was accidently discovered by Prof Muller and his colleagues who were working with scientists at the University of Ulm in Germany to grow graphene, a strong and very thin material made of carbon atoms. But when the German researchers looked at the graphene they had made, they saw something unusual on its surface.
They sent the sample to Muller’s lab, where he was able to analyze the sample with a powerful electron microscope that can see individual atoms, which when he took a closer look, he found the unusual substance to be made up of the elements of everyday glass; silicon and oxygen.
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The super thin layer has many of the characteristics of glass in daily use, it is transparent, it is more flexible than conventional glass it can be bent without shattering, but it will eventually break.
Prof Muller has stated that the record-breaking sheet of glass is stronger than a soap bubble, but would probably tear if a person blew on it hard.
The piece of glass is indeed a “record breaker” and has been recognised as such by “The Guinness Book of Records” who will be including it in the 2014 issue.
As this glass cannot be seen other than by means of a microscope we are unlikely to be seeing it used in everyday life but the potential for use in industrial applications is substantial
For more information on the initial ground breaking discovery see from Cornell University news article.
On the 10th october 2013 Cornell University, just one month since its discovery, they release a video showing they were not content with just discovering this super thin glass, they can now bend, deform and melt one-molecule-thick-glass!