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A new form of graphene discovered

Graphene, that magical one atom thick layer of carbon that has so many interested properties is made by a repeating pattern of six carbon atoms foreign hexagons. Now researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University have discovered another form of graphene where the layer is composed by repeated pentagon patterns. They called it penta-graphene.
The new patterns is similar to the one found in some streets in Cairo, Egypt, and has been found to be thermally and mechanically stable. Indeed, it was by seeing a reproduction of these patterns on a photo of Cairo’s streets (seen in Beijing) that Qian Wang, a professor at Beijing University and adjunct professor at VCU got the inspiration and decided to work on it.
Most of the work has been done through computer simulation and the researchers are still scratching their heads to find a practical way to fabricate penta-graphene. Interestingly, whilst the hexagonal form of graphene is conductive, the penta-graphene is a semi-conductor.
Another peculiar and counter interactive property of penta-graphene is the way it stretches. If you take a fabric and you stretch it in one direction it gets shorter (shrinks) in the other. That is exactly what happens to a hexagonal graphene, However, in case of the pentagonal graphene if you stretch it in one direction it stretches also in the other!
What I really find interesting is the ability we have got (I mean, scientists have got) to design new materials at the computer and then move on to lab’s benches to actually create it. They are basically playing with molecules like with Lego bricks!

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.