Insulating compound formed by adding hydrogen to graphene.
Graphane is an insulating compound formed by adding hydrogen to graphene.
Hydrogenation—the chemical reaction that results from the addition of hydrogen—is widely used in the chemical industries. Margarine may be the best-known example. (Hydrogenation turns liquid fat into solid.) Now, D.C. Elias and others at the University of Manchester in England have reported hydrogenating graphene, a single-atom-thick carbon crystal that was first reported in 2004 (Science 323, 610). Graphene has a fascinating energy structure that lends itself to applications in photonics and electronics.
Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov’s research group added hydrogen to graphene, turning it into a new material called graphane. Like graphene, graphane has a hexagonal crystal lattice, but it has a shorter period and can act as an electrical insulator. If the material can also be changed into a semiconductor, entire devices might be made from carbon.
Yvonne Carts-Powell is a freelance science writer who specializes in optics and photonics.