back to article OHM MY GOD! Move over graphene, here comes '100% PERFECT' stanene

A US, Chinese, and German research team has come up with a new material dubbed "stanene" that could – theoretically, at least – conduct electricity with "100 percent efficiency" at temperatures at which computer chips operate, raising the tantalizing possibility of highly efficient future chippery. "Stanene could increase the …

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  1. Don Jefe

    Stanene? Really, stanene? I don't care if it converts oxygen into platinum, I don't want to design anything with stanene in it. Scientists the world over are terrible at marketing, how are they going to license something with a name like that?

    "Intel processors, now with 50% more stanene." It sounds like an antiperspirant commercial from the '50's.

    But seriously, someone in science really should address the whole marketing thing. So few of scientists present well and it leads to talented researchers not getting their fair share of the credit and inferior research getting pushed to the front of the pack because somebody is pushing it. Plus, stuff like this happens. Stanene. Christ.

    1. Fibbles

      Calm down...

      Marketing will simply apply a glitzy name if for some reason it's ever marketed to the public (see the pharmaceutical industry).

      It sounds like something that is only ever really going to be the concern of scientists and engineers of one form or another. Engineers don't care what something is called; if it works, it works.

      1. Thorne

        Re: Calm down...

        How about Awesomene?

        1. Michael Thibault

          Re: Calm down...

          More likely than "awesomeene" is "eventualene".

        2. DropBear Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: Calm down...

          Well, how about "Instantene"...? It reflects potential higher speed applications, it contains the "stan-" base and it even ends in "tin" (also, it sounds like something out of a Marvel comic, so rule of cool)...? ;)

      2. Don Jefe
        Happy

        Re: Calm down...

        I know it'll get renamed something more marketing friendly if it becomes a real thing. I was just joking around because my Pauline joke died before it got started and I fell committed at that point.

        The part about scientists getting screwed because they often have trouble positioning their work is true though.

    2. Scoular

      No chemists here then?

      Stannum = tin

      which surely makes the name they used a bit obvious and not totally inappropriate

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: No chemists here

        Any literate chemist would have called it Stannene, with a double-n to preserve the short "a" sound. With a single-n it should indeed be pronounced "stain-ene" and deserves all the opprobrium of the OP.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: No chemists here

          "Stannene, with a double-n to preserve the short "a" sound."

          We could have a whole new Alooooominum war over the pronunciation :-)

          1. phy445

            Re: No chemists here

            Its not a war over pronunciation - the word is spelt differently on either side of the atlantic. IIRC the discoverer of aluminium/aluminum changed his mind on a voyage from Europe to the States. Due to the timescales that information travelled at back then, the aluminium version had stuck fast in GB by the time he got back to this side of the pond.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: No chemists here

            "We could have a whole new Alooooominum war over the pronunciation"

            I think you'll find that the disagreement in that particular case is nothing to do with the long 'o' sound used in the US... it's actually the dropping of the second 'i', when it's common throughout the rest of the periodic table to have 'ium' as a suffix, that irritates people.

            In fact, I believe I read somewhere that the correct pronunciation was originally used in the US; the change came about because someone made a spelling mistake in an advert or patent document for a method of processing the metal, and it ended up getting adopted as the normal usage simply because his process was the market leader and most widely known.

            It just goes to show that even the smallest cock-up can have far reaching consequences...

        2. Truth4u

          Re: No chemists here

          I would have called it Conductron, Voltradex, or Electrene

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      @Don Jefe

      "Stanene? Really, stanene? I don't care if it converts oxygen into platinum, I don't want to design anything with stanene in it. Scientists the world over are terrible at marketing, how are they going to license something with a name like that?"

      And I think that's way humour-by-exaggeration rarely works on the internet without an icon.

      Or you've just not had you're morning caffeine fix.

      1. Don Jefe
        Unhappy

        Re: @Don Jefe @John Smith 19

        Yeah, that bombed hard didn't it. It sounded funny in my head.

        1. Fibbles
          Unhappy

          Re: @Don Jefe @John Smith 19 @Don Jefe

          Sorry Jefe, didn't realise you were joking. I feel kinda bad now...

          The trouble with the Internet is that because there are so many frothing-at-the-mouth crazies spouting all kinds of ludicrousness, it has become very difficult for these jaded eyes to spot the difference between exaggerated tongue-in-cheek humour and genuinely 'serious' comments.

        2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
          Unhappy

          Re: @Don Jefe @John Smith 19

          Sadly, not one of your better efforts.

          I'm not sure why I got a downvote though.

      2. Mike Tree
        Joke

        Re: @Don Jefe

        Shouldn't that be caff-ene?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Scientists the world over are terrible at marketing

      Irrelevant - no matter how stuffed with advanced mathematical and computational algorithms, clever quantum mechanics, devious electromagnetic engineering, hi-tech materials science, etc ... that your phone (or whatever) is, they aren't going to use that to market it. They'll just show an attractive person looking happy while using it.

      At "best" the marketeers might name it something sciencey - "quantum", "galaxy" - but even then they only used quantum coz it "sounded cool", and it'll be almost certain that the number of galaxies in your phone approaches zero.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Scientists the world over are terrible at marketing

        They'll just show an attractive person looking happy while using it.

        Mmm, EEE girl.

    5. Chairo
      Happy

      @Don Jefe

      If you think that "Stanene" is a terrible name, you should try "Urea acid".

      That one has been re branded as "Add-blue" - probably to prevent people from refilling the Urea tank by pissing in.

    6. Mips
      Childcatcher

      "suffix du jour"

      Never mind stanene I like "suffix du jour". Quick get onto the Oxford English Dictionary

    7. Jedit

      "Really, stanene?"

      Better than calling it icosihenagene, and adding the strapline "you just can't have enough".

      Personally I wouldn't find stanene out of place in the component list of a Terminator, so it's acceptable as a name.

    8. stu 4

      pfff

      never mind the name...

      who'd have thought the boiling point of water was 100 C.

      you live and learn here on the register that's for sure.

      tell us El Reg, what is the name of the hinge thing half way down my arm ? And is there anyway of stopping getting it confused with the padded bit with the hole in it at the top of my legs ?

      1. jabuzz

        Re: pfff

        Actually I think you will find that the boiling point of water has not been 100°C for nearly 60 years now. Since 1954 it has been under standard conditions 99.9839 °C, and if you use the ITS-90 calibration it is even less at 99.974 °C. Kids of today eh.

    9. Martin Budden
      Coat

      You don't like the name stanene... OK, how about calling it something which indicates that it contains tin, and that it conducts with no loss of potential difference.

      Or is that a tinpot idea?

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Rubbish

      A Marketing bod worth his chops would wait until Game of Thrones was back on TV again and then sell it as Stannic Borathium.

    11. willi0000000
      Happy

      Don Jefe, i'm late to the party, as usual but reading the first comment (i got the joke right away) and seeing dozens of downvotes just amazed me.

      chin up though, they could have just gone with "stannous fluoride" which was (is?) the common form of fluoride added to toothpaste and all over the ads when i was just a wee one.

      imagine having to design circuits with toothpaste!

  2. Steve Brooks

    Stanene Inside, hmm has a nice ring to it!

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      @Stanene Inside

      Ha, didn't you read the article, Stanene Inside won't work, its just the Stanene Outside, that's the mutts mound.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @Stanene Inside

        "its just the Stanene Outside, that's the mutts mound."

        If we make a Klein bottle out of this stuff and apply a voltage would it turn the universe inside out?

        1. David Haworth 1

          Re: @Stanene Inside

          Quoth John Brown: "If we make a Klein bottle out of this stuff and apply a voltage would it turn the universe inside out?"

          Some would argue that this has already happened.

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Been waiting for the Reg to pick up on this

    Read about it a couple weeks ago elsewhere. Guess the Reg's science desk must have been on vacation :)

  4. cirby

    How about

    Hypertin?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about

      Tinselene? Ribbontin? Or, dare I say it...

      ..Conductin...?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about

      TinTin?

  5. hitmouse

    If they made it iStan, then the US would probably invade it.

    1. Thorne

      As soon as they worked out where it was on the map.....

      1. Andrew Jones 2

        They would probably give up looking, close their eyes (yes... the whole country) and stick a pin in a map - and say "that's where it is"

        1. Wzrd1

          "They would probably give up looking, close their eyes (yes... the whole country) and stick a pin in a map - and say "that's where it is""

          Wow! You got the majority of US citizens pegged true!

          How depressing.

          1. gerdesj Silver badge

            @Wzrd1

            >>>>"They would probably give up looking, close their eyes (yes... the whole country) and stick a pin in a map - and say "that's where it is""

            >>Wow! You got the majority of US citizens pegged true!

            >>How depressing.

            Not half as depressing as me noting that rather a lot of my fellow GB dwellers are just as geographically challenged as our hilarious stereotypical Merkin.

            Cheers

            Jon

      2. Wzrd1

        "As soon as they worked out where it was on the map....."

        Well, as a born and raised US citizen, I can attest to the fact that not a single soul in the US could find their own ass on a map, not even with both hands, a illustrated map and three navigators.

        That said, people in the US would most certainly buy anything named iStan. It has that magical "i" in front that turns shit into gold.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          I can attest to the fact that not a single soul in the US could find their own ass on a map

          That's a mighty detailed hypothetical map you have there.

          I know plenty of people in the US - myself included - who are quite adept at reading maps, and have a decent grasp of world physical and political geography.

          I can be as cynical as the next curmudgeon, but this "boo hoo, no one of X nationality possesses Y skill" cliche that Reg commentators are so fond of has gotten rather dull. Let's try harder in the future, eh?

  6. TWB

    So when do we get a semiconducting version?

    This sounds like somewhere along the way to 'super-semiconductors' I invented a few years back. Sadly I am yet to come up with a working prototype - (a bit like Pete 'n' Dud's pill that cures all illness/disease)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Went out with a girl called Stanene

    Australian I think.

    1. Charles Manning

      Re: Went out with a girl called Stanene

      Sounds more like a Dolly Parton country song.

    2. James Micallef Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Went out with a girl called Stanene

      Nah, the Ozzie doll woulda been called Sheila

    3. TitterYeNot
      Joke

      Re: Went out with a girl called Stanene

      Let me guess, you were sitting there thinking "Wow, she's got a big Adam's apple for a girl..."

  8. Charles Manning

    Resistance is futile

    The heat in chippery is not due really caused by resistive losses but is more a result of capacitive losses.

    Each "bit"/transistor holds charge and is, in effect a small capacitor. Every time a bit state toggles from 1 to 0 or 0 to 1, the capacitor must charge or discharge using up energy according to E=0.5 x C xV^2. Toggling billions of those / sec results in the power consumed by the chip.

    Changing the resistance of the conductive paths within the chip has little direct impact on that.

    1. Frank_M

      Re: Resistance is futile

      Yes but with super conduction nano wire we could build room temperature super conducting memristors that function in the pico second range.

      Then HP could put them up on a shelf, join hands and dance around singing "we have something you can't have."

      1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Resistance is futile

        > Then HP could put them up on a shelf, join hands and dance around singing "we have something you can't have."

        Nah, HP will let you have them, no problem, you'll just have to sign an EULA agreeing that you won't use it for Oracle SW.

    2. frank ly Silver badge

      Re: Resistance is futile

      If the energy stored in the capacitors could be recycled somehow, instead of being dumped/wasted during a state change, that might be of benefit. It would need a big increase in associated circuitry but it might be worth it for super-high density high speed circuits.

      1. Charles Manning

        Re: Resistance is futile

        "If the energy stored in the capacitors could be recycled somehow."

        Well that's a problem... The only way to get charge out of a capacitor is to run it down to 0 volts. Now some of that could be discharged into some other capacitor at a lower voltage, but the rest is going to end up turning into heat.

        It is appealing to think that the energy can be "pumped out" and stored in a supercap or such for future use, but then you're really making a perpetual motion machine and there are some laws of physics ready to spoil your fun.

        1. Moonshine
          WTF?

          Re: Resistance is futile

          @Charles Manning:

          "The only way to get charge out of a capacitor is to run it down to 0 volts."

          I didn't think that "zero volts" were absolutely required, whatever you mean by that.

          "... but then you're really making a perpetual motion machine"

          No you are not "really" making anything of the sort; in fact you are not even trying. You are just trying to make a more efficient machine. I don't know how you got to perpetual motion machines.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Resistance is futile

        If the energy stored in the capacitors could be recycled somehow, instead of being dumped/wasted during a state change, that might be of benefit.

        It's been done in the lab. Look up "reversible computing".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Look up "reversible computing".

          I have looked up "Reversible computing".

          Every time I try it I end up thinking it's April 1st.

          Meanwhile, if perfect conductors and perfect capacitors existed, computers in general (of the real world non-reversible type) would still be lossy devices where the energy input ended up mostly as heat. Because when you accelerate a charged particle (e.g. an electron) it radiates energy. That energy is, in general, radiated into the surroundings and lost forever. An LC resonant tuned circuit is one of the few exceptions to the general principle that changes in state incur significant losses of energy, and even with an LC tuned circuit, you can't quite get to losslessness.

          Isn't science wonderful.

    3. Wzrd1

      Re: Resistance is futile

      "The heat in chippery is not due really caused by resistive losses but is more a result of capacitive losses."

      True enough. If anything, this would *increase* the losses, as the description of the substance shows surface conduction, interior insulation. Break that surface, it's a capacitor. At certain frequencies, it'd be a capacitor even if the surface weren't broken, but that would be true only with large conductors or at the highest of frequencies.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Resistance is futile

        @Wzrd1 - a fundamental misunderstanding of CMOS. In a pre-CMOS computer, a bit was represented as a flow of current. It's consuming power even if it's just maintaining an unchanging logic level for minutes on end.

        in CMOS a bit of state is a package of charge - maybe as little as 100 electrons. No current flows except when a bit of state is chaged, when the electrons have to be removed from a high voltage (probably representing a 1) to a low voltage (0). CMOS can work on micro- or nano-watts. Witness the hand calculator powered by a couple of square cm of low-grade PV panel, illuminated by an energy-saving dim light bulb (and operated by a dimmer one - sorry). Easy when you want single-digit IPS not MIPS.

        Moore's law is based on a scaling law. If you shrink the devices by a given factor, reduce the voltage (between 1 and 0) by the same factor, you have constant power per unit area of chip and that factor squared more devices to play with in the same area. The limiting factor is that atoms are discrete, and today we are at the point where the gates of the FETs can no longer be made much (if any) thinner. So the scaling law can't be followed any further, and the first sign of trouble is that the chip runs too hot because it's suffering resistive heating from various sources.

    4. avont

      Re: Resistance is futile

      Oh Charles...

      ...that may actualy sound convincing to the unwashed masses, evoking awe along the lines of "Ugh, Charles used a formulae, the man knows his stuff!"

      1.) Losses in a capacitor are (for practical purposes) all resistive losses - electrode resistance, dielectric leakage, etc...

      2.) E=0.5 x C xV^2 --> energy stored (not "used up") in an IDEAL capacitor. Ideal capacitors suffer no losses, nor do ideal capacitors exist.

      3.) If stanene pans out, someone (most likely someone other than you Charles...) may well use it to build capacitors that are a step closer to the ideal.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Marvellous

    I do hope they hurry up and market sheets of the stuff. Modern pressures on privacy being what they are, I'm finding that tin-foil doesn't cut it any more.

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      Tinfoil

      Tinfoil is Al rather than Sn, alas.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tinfoil

        Hmmm. Perhaps that explains why it no longer seems to be working.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "...it no longer seems to be working."

          [Hey, pssst, not to worry you, but that's just what they want you to think.]

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Meh

    Note 2 things. a) It's a *theoretical* material. b) It's only perfect till it gets to a *connector*

    No one has made 2D Sn, much less 2D Sn funtionalised with Florine.

    However Mercury Telluride has been made (I think it was used in IR detectors but better materials exist) and seems to verify the theory, or at least part of it. I'm not sure if that included the 1 atom thick layer thing.

    The trouble with these calculated materials is the calcs are complex and approximations used. So the effect works great in a perfect lattice but IRL....

    But what happens when you want to tap the flow and direct an electron flow (I know, lets call it a "current") into something more useful?

    No mention of what happens at that point.

    Thing is if this is a perfect conductor then (by definition) all else is imperfect, so there's a discontinuity interface. "Stuff" happens at such interfaces (typically rectification in semiconductors). Rapid heating as electrons "bunch up"? Infinite impedance IE no electrons exit the material?

    B**gered if I know.

    And note also 100% efficiency <> infinite capacity. At some point the # of electrons you're injecting into the layer exceeds a threshold and "stuff" happens (again). What's the threshold, what's the effect? See previous comment.

    IRL on chip conductor layers have holes punched in them to allow signals (including power) to contact the processing layer from above. IIRC (I'm not current) this is at least 8 layers.

    Another "discontinuity"

    So I'd call it V 0.05 tech at best. Lots of potential but that's about it at present.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Note 2 things. a) It's a *theoretical* material.

      Some bits of the theory are going to be very simple to put into practice though.

      For example, that "1-atom thick" part - if they give it to the ham-slicing department in our canteen they'll be able to sort that bit out no bother.

      1. beast666

        Re: Note 2 things. a) It's a *theoretical* material.

        I like thin sliced ham. It amuses me to think your canteen has one-up on IBM and their ilk and can produce slices just one ham atom thin... mmmm

    2. Wzrd1

      Note 2 things. a) It's a *theoretical* material. b) It's only perfect till it gets to a *connector*

      "The trouble with these calculated materials is the calcs are complex and approximations used."

      One ponders the old f00f bug... Approximation to the point of magic smoke elimination?

      "Thing is if this is a perfect conductor then (by definition) all else is imperfect..."

      On paper, *everything* is perfect. In practice, nothing ever is.

      Well, save myself. I'm perfect.

      A perfect disaster.

      "Thing is if this is a perfect conductor then (by definition) all else is imperfect, so there's a discontinuity interface."

      See the above magic smoke release. Rather than the more common light emitting diodes, one ends up with smoke emitting diodes.

  11. Bela Lubkin
    Coat

    This stuff should be ideal for tinfoil hats (tip o'mine to JustaKOS who already obliqued this joke)

  12. I am replete.

    It's a devious and inscrutable plot, I think. The name obviously derivers from Stanford (a university, I think, somewhere) and "ened-u"p to give it a scientific lustre, or lustrene.

    1. Anomalous Cowturd
      Boffin

      Re: derives from Stanford.

      I presumed it was invented by a bloke called Stan.

      </shrug>

      P.S. Don Jefe's Pauline made me snigger.

  13. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    Joke

    My invention makes Microsoft computers run faster*, I call it Windowlene.

    Yours for only $50 a bottle.

    *when sent down a water-slide.

    1. Clive Galway
      Coat

      If you want to make things go faster...

      ... you want ComeOnEileen.

      Unfortunately its only good for one use, and will leave you with a strange desire to wear dungarees.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There was a product called Barishene, I seem to recall. Made them go quite fast, but they did crash occasionally.

  14. Tom 7 Silver badge

    It wont become universal

    They'll just sell a couple of hundred meters to some 'audiophiles' and make all the money they'll ever need.

  15. kryptonaut

    -ene

    "We also suspect that they added "ene" simply because, well, it's the materials science suffix du jour."

    The '-ene' ending in graphene and buckminsterfullerene has a meaning, by analogy with alkenes. From the Wikipedia article on Fullerenes:

    The suffix "-ene" indicates that each C atom is covalently bonded to three others (instead of the maximum of four), a situation that classically would correspond to the existence of bonds involving two pairs of electrons ("double bonds").

    Given that this new material has a similar structure to graphene, 'Stanene' seems to be a meaningful name - although I think 'Stannene' would avoid ambiguity in pronunciation and would be more in keeping with Stannic and Stannous.

    1. Ed_UK
      Boffin

      Re: -ene

      "The suffix "-ene" indicates that each C atom is covalently bonded to three others (instead of the maximum of four), a situation that classically would correspond to the existence of bonds involving two pairs of electrons ("double bonds")."

      If memory serves, (A-level chem, late 1970s) in compounds containing carbon rings, each C atom has bonds to three others, but the fourth bonding electron is "de-localised." This enables it to move fairly freely over the surface of the rings, so it can conduct electricity. Graphite is the usual example.

      Disclaimers: I may have mis-remembered. The picture may have been simplified. Knowledge in the field may have progressed to the point where the above is no longer accurate.

      p.s. I don't know if the delightfully-named ring molecule Arsole is conductive, but I don't care.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, the -ene ending is entirely inappropriate.

      Rather than looking up the article on Fullerene, why not look up the article on the -ene suffix?

      The suffix -ene is used in organic chemistry to form names of organic compounds where the -C=C- group has been attributed the highest priority according to the rules of organic nomenclature.

      Given that there's no carbon and no double-bonds in this entirely inorganic new material, the suffix is completely incorrectly used.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: No, the -ene ending is entirely inappropriate.

        Given that there's no carbon and no double-bonds in this entirely inorganic new material, the suffix is completely incorrectly used.

        Not exactly. Chemists break those rules all over the place (for lack of syllables? ). -ane refers to a hydrogen-saturated compound of carbon and hydrogen, except we have Silane (SiH4) Borane (BH3 ... sometimes ... lots of other wierd BmHn compounds), and even, if memory serves, Stannane (SnH4). There's the clue: Tin is a group IV element and although it usually displays metallic character, in this -ene it seems to be displaying the same delocalised electron bonding as Graphene.

        the thing that's puzzling me is the Fluorine. Two Flourines per Tin should tie up two electrons, so is it maintaining a delocalised ring structure with 2/3 electrons per "bond" rather than 4/3 as in Graphene? Doesn't that make it perfluorostannane? (And can one manufacture perfluorographene, which might make PTFE look sticky if it can exist at all? )

        1. Ian Bush
          Boffin

          Re: No, the -ene ending is entirely inappropriate.

          "(And can one manufacture perfluorographene, which might make PTFE look sticky if it can exist at all? )"

          Yes you can. Carbon monofluoride has been known for years, and mre recently graphene fluoride has been made.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene_fluoride

          Personally even if, and it's a big if, the predicted properties are found to be true I doubt stanene will ever be made, and if it is it will be highly unstable under any useful conditions - it will just disproportionate to elemental tin and either the di or tetra-fluoride. Tin just ain't carbon!

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: -ene

      "Stannic"

      <ISIHAC>Stannic - A dark mill in Yorkshire</ISIHAC>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: -ene

        the <ISIHAC> tag isn't used enough around here, good call .... :-)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "flourine atoms"

    Is that what bread is made of?

  17. Christoph Silver badge
    Boffin

    100 percent efficiency?

    What exactly do they mean by 100 percent efficiency? If they are seriously claiming to have a room temperature superconductor then the improvement of micro-circuitry will be trivial compared to the other applications.

    Room temperature superconductors would be game-changing in all sorts of different fields.

    1. Dave Fox

      Re: 100 percent efficiency?

      My thoughts too initially, but on further reading it would appear that the researchers are not claiming this.

      Zhang was at pains to point out:

      "This is not a superconductor, with the following distinction -- it only conducts with 100 percent efficiency on the edges -- the interior of this two-dimensional material is an insulator," Zhang told us."

      1. Christoph Silver badge

        Re: 100 percent efficiency?

        So give it lots of edges? Slice it up lengthways into multiple extremely thin strips. Keep going till it's just wires.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: 100 percent efficiency?

          I expect they mean it superconducts only at isolated edges. Pack a load of edges close together and they simply aren't edges any more. The electrons in one edge start interacting with those in other edges and I'd guess the whole thing becomes an ordinary resistive bulk conductor on the macro-scale.

          There's a similar problem in the Semiconductor industry. SiO2 is a good insulator, but only in bulk. As you start trying to make thinner and thinner FET gates, you eventually get to the point where most of your SIO2 is surface and the rest is influenced by being only one bond away from a surface. At which point it ceases to be a good insulator and Moore's law runs out of road.

          Another similar conundrum is the tensile strength of a carbon "buckytube" molecule. Strong enough to build a space elevator ... except how do you assemble buckytubes into a bulk material? What "glue" can you use, that doesn't change the (admittedly large) molecule into something else?

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: 100 percent efficiency?

      I was assuming they can't make large structures. Also being 1 atom thick it would need a very smooth special substrate. There is also probably a limit to the current due to electromagnetic, Electrostatic or other effects, so we probably won't see physical wires (which would be like "Litz" no doubt) but if possible at all, only on chips.

      You'll need a microscope to see it?

    3. MrXavia

      Re: 100 percent efficiency?

      My initial thoughts exactly, room temperature super conductor would mean maglev tech could really get off the ground... and I can finally finish my intergalactic bridge (well that is just as likely as them actually having a real room temperature superconductor)

    4. Akhenaten

      Re: 100 percent efficiency?

      Room temperature super conductivity could enable efficient artificial van Allen Belts to be fitted to interplanetary spacecraft, thus protecting astronauts from solar particulate radiation from flares.

      This would remove at a stroke the most significant obstacle to space colonisation- over to Robert Bigelow et al?

      The solar system would undoubtedly be the most major advance imaginable for a species endangered by Malthusian and Orwellian ideas based on supposed shortages of energy, materials, and living space

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would have thought...

    ...this would be more useful in power transmission. Think about it, the national grid with no power loss! No problems with 100C limit. But what do I know?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tin pot

    I'm not sure I'd trust thin layers of tin to behave themselves - look up "tin whiskers" to find out how it can conduct electricity into places you didn't want.

    Although the name should be "stannene" on linguistic grounds, this is already taken for compounds with tin-tin double bonds, so maybe the authors didn't want google searches to fall into chemistry journals. (Graphene was a neologism.) At least they won't have the marketing problems of Element 33, alluded to by Ed_UK above.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Tin pot

      Graphene was a neologism

      A logical one. The multiple-ring hydrogen-carbon compounds with delocalised electrons have names ending -ene (Napthalene, Anthracene, Pyrene, Benzpyrene ... getting more carcinogenic as they get bigger )

      So the one that's so big you can peel it off a lump of Graphite with Sellotape was christened Graphene. Until someone did that, it was wrongly assumed that it would be unstable and couldn't exist. (I'd have voted for Sellotapene)

    2. cray74

      Re: Tin pot

      Tin whiskers seem to be an issue when there's enough bulk tin to distort and extrude a whisker. If stanene is made one-atom thick, then it won't have the bulk crystals and grain boundaries that seem to be related to whisker extrusion.

      Of course, those conditions would probably appear as soon as stanene gets layered into thicker structures.

  20. AkodoGilador
    Boffin

    Manufacture

    There's plenty of methods of making graphene listed on Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene#Occurrence_and_production - but has anyone succeeded in making silicene or germanene?

    Or plumbene, I guess.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Manufacture

      At a guess they aren't stable. AFAIK there are NO silicon or germanium analogues of aromatic (C6-ring-based ) hydrocarbons. In fact I don't think there are Silicanes either, apart from Silane. Instead you get silicone chemistry, based on Si-O-Si bonds.

      But I may be wrong, because I'd have thought Stanene even less likely. Is it really stable in the presence of Oxygen? Water? Or is it like one of those "things I won't work with" (Google that phrase for some fun reading about molecules that fall apart at the slightest nudge -- or occasionally, against all expectation, that don't).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take two elements into the shower?

    Pantene

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Take two elements into the shower?

      does the Pro V bit mean its no good for buffing up a Brazilian?

  22. TwistUrCapBack

    "should allow stanene to conduct electricity perfectly along its edges (blue and red arrows)"

    Thanks for that .. I wouldn't have had a clue as to where the edges of the diagram were , if it wasn't for those HUGE red and blue arrows ..

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: those HUGE red and blue arrows ...

      ...did at least make it clear that the upper and lower surfaces weren't counting as edges in this context.

      A bit of a shame that, since it probably makes it much harder to produce a macroscopic "wire" carrying an appreciable current, which quite by co-incidence answers the question just below this sub-thread.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could Stanene be used as a regular electrical-power transmission wire? I realise that the charge can only go along the surface of it, by design. Does this mean that it cannot scale to be useful for passing high voltage current over long distances?

    If they can find a way to make lots of Stanene layers or strands all bundles together could that lead to greater surface area and allow for this?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Room temperature superconductivity

    Hmm, thats interesting because true RTSC would generate a strong Meissner effect that would be pretty obvious.

    I'm curious if this material exists anywhere in quantity to do this fundamental test, if it works then it could be game changing like OP says.

    I've played with graphene before in the form of pyrolytic graphite (dislocated graphene) and it certainly does exhibit diamagnetic effects such as floating above a magnet, but this is the strongest effect in a non superconducting material known.

  25. jlabute

    Viagra Ingredient

    "Stanene"

    Well, it sounds more like an ingredient for an ED medication. Viagra... now with 10% more Stanene. It took all my energy getting my hopes up for graphene... I can't handle another material at the moment.

    Funny about tinfoil... should be called Alfoil... but it sounds too much like awful. lol. Do people really still call aluminum foil as tin foil? I remember calling it that decades ago. It's not actually written on packaging anywhere is it?

    Jeff

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. billse10

    Stanene?

    "Zhang and his team say that they named stanene by combining stannum, the Latin word for tin, and "ene", borrowed from that other much-touted one atom–thick wonder material, graphene. We also suspect that they added "ene" simply because, well, it's the materials science suffix du jour."

    It's pure coincidence he's from Stanford then ....

  27. Herby Silver badge

    Toothpaste??

    One of the ingredients of some toothpaste is a Stannous Fluoride. In some localities, it is inserted into water to help prevent cavities. Of course I don't know if this material has similar properties, but you never know!

    see:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stannous_fluoride

  28. JLV Silver badge
    Joke

    Let's hope it's more malleable than Stannis.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Watch out for cold weather.

    Anyone here ever hear about tin rot? It happens at low temperatures. We could create machines that would work fine in summer, but turn into so many useless paperweights in the winter. The thinner a piece of tin is, the more likely it is to suffer from rot.

    Worse, have a look at the tin business nowadays. I'll bet that Tim Worstall could write a very amusing article on the subject.

    1. cray74

      Re: Watch out for cold weather.

      The risk of tin pest would depend on the stability of hexagonal tin. Tin pet is the transformation of ductile metallic tin into brittle diamond-crystalline tin. Where's hexagonal tin sit on that phase diagram?

      Of course, the fact that hexagonal tin's not exactly an everyday substance does imply an answer: "It's not stable and will quickly revert to the most convenient allotrope at its current conditions."

  30. Anonymous Blowhard

    Meh

    I'll believe it when I read about it in the Morny Stannit

    (c) M&W

  31. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Coat

    But how will you solder to it?

    Don't say it...

  32. cray74

    Room temperature superconductivity, of course. It's a new material. 20 years in the materials engineering field has taught me something: all new materials are potentially room temperature superconductors. Their discoverers will tell you so at length.

    Really, if a scientist discovers a 7th crystalline form of chocolate, they're going to say, "Hey, this might be a room temperature superconductor!" And CNN and Fox News will 'gasm over the potential of superconducting chocolate (micro) chips.

  33. James Pickett

    "Tin film"

    They've had those in Ireland for years.

  34. Grendel
    Trollface

    I have a use for it!

    Will Stanene (Stannene) make the perfect tin foil hat? 100% conductivity = 100% protection from mind controlling death rays and other electrical interference...

  35. MajorTom

    Stanene...nice woody sound.

    Tin*...too tinny.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tinford university?

    Back to the Tin Age.

  37. Snik

    "Large-Gap Quantum Spin Hall Insulators in Tin Films"...........(that's what she said)

  38. arnief

    What are the properties of this proposed superconductor.

    Superconductors have peculiar resistive properties. A conventional superconductor has zero DC resistance, but at elevated frequencies it is observed that resistance is finite and increases more rapidly with frequency than can be attributed to something like skin effect. The resistance increases faster than that of conventional conductors and ultimately reaches a crossover point. Operation above the crossover frequency is degraded with respect to normal conductors. So, the issue is -

    What is the crossover frequency for Stanene?

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