Meet germanene, the latest addition to the family of elements that have a two-dimensional allotrope

New Journal of Physics/IOP Publishing

In recent years we’ve welcomed silicene and phosphorene to the family of elements that have a two-dimensional allotrope, and now germanium has become the latest member.

Dubbed – of course – germanene, the graphene-like allotrope was successfully grown by dry deposition of germanium onto a gold substrate to make a one-atom thick layer, by an international team of researchers led by Guy Le Lay at Aix-Marseille University in France. Its existence was first predicted in 2009 by a group from Bilkent University in Turkey.

Scanning tunnelling microscopy shows that, like its carbon- and silicon-based cousins, germanene has a honeycomb structure typical of two-dimensional materials. At this stage, little is known about its potential uses, and more work needs to be done to explore its properties. The team are currently investigating ways to produce it in larger quantities.