The next-generation electronic and energy devices that will be made with the new development will have a set of improved characteristics.

Silicon plays a huge role in human life. It is the second most common element in the earth's crust. In combination with other elements, it is necessary for many construction and infrastructure projects. And in its pure elementary form, it is quite important for computing — it is not for nothing that the US technology center — Silicon Valley-was named after it.

Like all elements, silicon can take on various crystalline forms called allotropes, just as soft graphite and superhard diamond are forms of carbon. The form of silicon most commonly used in electronic devices, whether computers or solar panels, has the same structure as diamond. Despite its widespread use, this form of silicon is actually not fully suitable for next-generation devices, especially in terms of creating high-performance transistors and photovoltaic devices.

Although in theory there may be various silicon allotropes with improved physical properties, in practice only a few of them have been created. So, Strobel's lab has developed a revolutionary new form of silicon that has an open "karskas" consisting of a series of one-dimensional channels. It was named 4H-Si after the four repeating layers in the hexagonal structure.

Interest in hexagonal silicon began in the 1960s because of the ability to customize its electronic properties. The hexagonal forms of silicon were synthesized earlier, but by a very complex process. Working with the new form created by scientists is more simple, which opens up new ways to create devices of the future.

Photo: Thomas Shiell and Timothy Strobel-Visualization of the 4H-Si structure perpendicular to the hexagonal axis.

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