LONDON – Science researchers have reported the growth of a single layer of silicon on top of silver, in a hexagonal 2-D form of silicon similar to the graphene form of carbon.
A team from universities in Berlin and Marseille and research institutes in Rome and Saint Aubin, France has published a paper in Physical Review Letters that claims to show evidence of the synthesis of epitaxial silicene sheets on a silver (111) substrate.
Silicon and carbon both have four valence electrons which means that the two elements should be able to demonstrate a degree of similarity including the possibility of silicon-based life forms and carbon-based conductors and semiconductors.
Graphene has attracted much attention recently because it offers higher electron mobility than materials used to date in silicon-based transistors. However, before it has reached commercial deployment if could be rivaled its silicon equivalent, especially because of the inherent compatibility silicene has with silicon-based electronics and how easily it could be used in wafer fabs.
Academics speculated about the possible synthesis of silicene in 2010 and some claimed to have seen structures suggestive of silicene. The team from Technical University Berlin, Aix-Marseille University, CNR-ISM Rome and Synchrotron Soleil in Saint Aubin, France state in the abstract to the Physical Review Letter that their evidence, based on a combination of scanning tunneling microscopy and angular-resolved photoemission spectroscopy in conjunction with calculations based on density functional theory, is compelling.
Silicene is thought to differ from graphene by having a rippled surface but the electronic properties of silicene nanoribbons and sheets are said to resemble those of graphene, according to a review of silicene published by another team.
Incorporating silicon is one thing. It's not unlike incorporating calcium for use in bones, or iron for use in blood. Life requires a great deal of chemical diversity and silicon just isn't chemically capable of that kind of diversity under any known conditions (temperature and pressure). Fats, Carbohydrates, Nucleic Acids, and Proteins are all carbon based and represent an enormous diversity of chemical structures. You just can't come close to that with silicon based molecules.
I'm not aware of silicon being used in an "organic" fashion. I'd love to see examples, though.
I seem to remember learning that some living organisms on earth incorporate silicon in an organic manner.
As I remember it was mainly single-celled organisms, some plankton and some mosses.
I am going back 40 years but I seem to remember that some friend-of-a-friend was going to do a PhD studying Canadian moss that includes silicon-based organic chemistry.
Perhaps he never found the moss and never got his PhD.
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