Part of what makes graphene so fantastically useful is its amazing thinness – it's just one atom thick.
Scientists have now found hundreds of other materials that are equally thin, providing a wide selection of new materials with perhaps as much potential as graphene.
The team analysed data in open resources including the Crystallography Open Database, looking for materials with structural similarities to graphene with the help of a custom computer program.
They were looking for materials with strong chemical bonds along one plane – the 2D atom layer – and relatively weak non-chemical action along the perpendicular plane. It's this combination that lets us peel sheets of graphene from graphite.
Starting off with a pool of over 100,000 crystal structures, the team from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland was able to narrow down the selection to 1,825 compounds with the potential to form sheets just a single atom thick.