Weird Form of Silicon Could Be Used for Next-Gen Electronics and Energy Devices

Hexagonal form of silicon 1 photo
Photo: Thomas Shiell and Timothy Strobel
They named an entire region in California in its honor, as silicon is indeed one of the most valuable chemical elements of our times. We use it for transistors, computer chips, solar cells, engine blocks, concrete, and bricks, you name it. And now scientists have come up with a new form of silicon that could create the next-gen of electronics.
We are indeed in the Silicon Age as this element is one of the most useful ones for mankind. Silicon has the symbol Si and the atomic number 14. It is a semiconductor which makes it great in the computer industry, so it’s no surprise that an entire valley in California was named in its honor: Silicon Valley.

Now a team of scientists at the Carnegie Institution for Science has come up with a new form of silicon that could prove to be even more useful. Silicon can take different crystalline forms or allotropes, according to Carnegie Science. Its widely used form nowadays, especially for electronics, solar panels, and computers, is a cubic one that is structured like a diamond. But that doesn’t unlock the full potential of this valuable element, and this particular form we’re using it in is not the most optimized one.

So, scientists started running lab tests and have come up with a new form they called 4H-silicon. It has a hexagonal structure and has four repeating layers, hence the number in its name.

This is not the first time someone has tried to synthesize silicon in a hexagonal form, but it is the first time they succeeded in producing such high-quality, stable, bulk crystals. Scientists claim this new form will serve as the basis for future research activities.

The new hexagonal silicon could be used to manufacture high-performance transistors, photovoltaic devices to charge EVs, and other next-gen electronics with enhanced properties. We are still waiting for more information regarding the scientists’ discovery and its future applications.
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About the author: Cristina Mircea
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Cristina’s always found writing more comfortable to do than speaking, which is why she chose print over broadcast media in college. When she’s not typing, she also loves riding non-motorized two-wheelers, going on hikes with her dog, and rocking her electric guitars.
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