In 2012, researchers at Cornell University and Germany’s University of Ulm accidentally discovered the world’s thinnest sheet of glass.
They were trying to create graphene, one of the thinnest and strongest materials in the world. Sheets of graphene are just one carbon atom thick, with those atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice.
Using an electron microscope, the researchers inspected some ‘muck’ on the graphene. To their surprise, they discovered that it was essentially a 2D sheet of common glass, made up of silicon and oxygen atoms. They had created the world’s thinnest glass that was just two atoms thick!
The researchers’ observations were first described in January 2012 in the journal Nano Letters. Though it was an accidental discovery, the researchers say such deliberately created 2D glass could find its way into nanotechnology, and could even one day be used in transistors.