A race started to synthesize a new 2-D material by following the isolation of graphene in the year 2004. These 2D materials are substances having a single layer and their thickness is between one atom and some nanometers. These materials have unique properties which are linked with the reduce dimension they have. Also, the material plays a vital role in the development of nanoengineering.
A group of international researchers which also includes some Brazilian scientists worked for developing a new material. These Brazilian scientists are affiliated with the UNICAMP- University of Campinas. The group of researchers has achieved success in making a new material which has such unique characteristics.
From an ordinary iron ore, a 2D material which is called as hematene by researchers was extracted by them. The material which has been extracted has the thickness of three atoms and also possess photocatalytic properties.
An article published in Nature Nanotechnology describes this innovation. This research took place at the Center for Computational Engineering and Sciences (CCES).
An author of the study, Soares Galvo said that “ The material which was synthesized by us can also act as a photocatalyst for splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen. Doing so electricity can be produced from, hydrogen which can be used for a number of potential applications.”
Very easily on earth, this material is available and it is also a main source of iron. It is used in the making of different products and to make steel as well.
Hematite is different from carbon and graphene which is a 2D form of carbon. Hematite is a non-van der Waals material which means that it can be held together by 3D bonding networks.
The researcher believes that hematite is a very good precursor for exfoliation of the 2D materials because of many reasons like these are natural materials and also it is a non-van der Waals material.
Galvao said that “ Many 2D materials which are synthesized to date were actually derived from the van der Waals solids sample. Non-van der Waals 2D materials which have well ordered atomic layers are still very rare.”
Also, the photocatalytic properties of hematene were analyzed by the researchers. What capacity it has to increase the speed of chemical reaction when it is being energized using light. The results obtained tells that photocatalysis by hematene is very much efficient than photocatalysis by hematite. Photocatalytic properties of hematite are known very well but these are not capable enough to be useful.