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Versatile membrane

A more versatile membrane

Migration: nitrogen (blue) and boron (green) react with graphene

ufabcMigration: nitrogen (blue) and boron (green) react with grapheneufabc

A team of physicists from the Federal University of ABC (UFABC), in the city of Santo André, demonstrated in theory that graphene, a sheet formed exclusively of carbon atoms arranged in hexagons, can be chemically modified by means of a spontaneous process and thus increase its applications. A possible substitute of silicon in the nanotransmitters of the future, grapheme was used to separate two distinct media, one high in boron and the other high in nitrogen.  Because it is extremely thin, the grapheme membrane allows atoms located on one side to feel the presence of atoms of another element located on the other side. An interesting reaction occurs because of this characteristic.  “ The boron atoms migrate and are spontaneously incorporated into the membrane,”  explains Gustavo Dalpian, from the UFABC, and one of the authors of the paper, together with Renato B. Pontes and Adalberto Fazzio. “There are many possible applications of the graphene membrane, ranging from electronic devices to nanoballoons [to transport drugs inside an organism].” When it is modified, the six-carbon graphene remains with five carbons and one boron atom.  At the conclusion of the experiment, simulated in a super computer, the nitrogen atoms were eliminated from the system by means of another reaction.  The paper was published on January 26 in Physical Review B scientific journal.