Tuesday, September 24, 2013

World's Thinnest Glass

For a long time scientists have modeled the structure of glass, but recently the two dimensional structure was seen clearly in an electron microscope. Eureka! It matched the projected model. (The image at left shows the model in yellow/red and the electron microscope actual image in gray.)

At just a molecule thick, the world’s thinnest sheet of glass, discovered by scientists at Cornell and Germany’s University of Ulm, was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.

The “pane” of glass was made up of individual silicon and oxygen atoms seen via electron microscopy, and identified in the lab of David A. Muller, professor of applied and engineering physics and director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.

At two atoms thick, the glass was an accidental discovery. Scientists had been making graphene (a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms) when they spotted some goop on the sample. Upon analysis, it was silicon and oxygen (i.e., glass).

I don't know about you, but I get a deep sense of gratification when theories are proved right. I'm not sure if it is a juvenile response like "Take that you doubters!" Or if I can feel more confident about seeing even more key theories explained and proven with solid data and new technology. Perhaps a bit of both. Go Science!

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