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Free-Standing Single-Atom-Thick Iron Membranes Suspended in Graphene Pores

Science  14 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6176, pp. 1228-1232
DOI: 10.1126/science.1245273

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Iron in Graphene

Carbon or other covalently bonded materials, like boron nitride, can form two-dimensional sheets because of the strong bonding between the atoms. In contrast, metals share electrons in a three-dimensional delocalized way, and this could preclude the formation of thin stable sheets. Nevertheless, Zhao et al. (p. 1228) observed pure iron membranes suspended across the pores in a graphene sheet. This phenomenon was discovered when an iron chloride solution, used to process the graphene, decomposed to form pure iron films across the pores.

Abstract

The excess of surface dangling bonds makes the formation of free-standing two-dimensional (2D) metals unstable and hence difficult to achieve. To date, only a few reports have demonstrated 2D metal formation over substrates. Here, we show a free-standing crystalline single-atom-thick layer of iron (Fe) using in situ low-voltage aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy and supporting image simulations. First-principles calculations confirm enhanced magnetic properties for single-atom-thick 2D Fe membranes. This work could pave the way for new 2D structures to be formed in graphene membranes.

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