Just like carbon, silicon can form two-dimensional networks that are only one atom thick and that have excellent opto-electronic characteristics (comparable to those of graphene). These nanosheets are however unstable on their own. A research team from the Technische Universiteit München (TUM) has now succeeded in combining these silicon nanosheets with an artificial polymer; the result is a material that is UV-resistant and at the same time is easy to use. The polymer matrix absorbs light in the UV range, stabilizes the nanosheets and protects them from oxidization, and gives that material the properties of the polymer that is used, without disturbing the extraordinary opto-electronic properties of the nanosheets.

Si-nanosheets are eminently suitable for use in nano-electronics applications, for example in flexible displays as the base material for FETs or as photo detectors. Because the sheets can also hold on to lithium ions, the material may also be suitable as an anode material for lithium-ion batteries.

Recently the first successful application of the new nano composite material has been demonstrated: a photo detector that is only a couple of nanometers in size has been constructed. For this purpose the silicon sheets embedded in the polymer matrix where attached to a silicon oxide surface that has gold contacts. Because of its tiny dimensions such a nano-electronic photo detector will not only save much space but also much energy.