The Cliff of the Two-Dimensional World

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    The Cliff of the Two-Dimensional World is the 2011 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge People's Choice Winner in photography. The challenge is sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) along with the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

    This landscape, which looks like a red-rock bluff straight out of Utah, isn't a geologic feature. Instead, it's a nanostructured material made from ultrathin layers of titanium-based compounds, as seen under an electron microscope. These exfoliated layers, which Babak Anasori and colleagues at Drexel University in Philadelphia dubbed MXenes, are so thin they are two-dimensional. In other words, each strip is only five atomic layers thick. The team is the first to render such materials in 2-D. The MXenes could be used in energy storage devices, sensors, solar cells and other applications, the team writes. And they could give the majesty of Arches National Park in Utah some nanoscale competition.

    Credit: Babak Anasori, Michael Naguib, Yury Gogotsi, Michel W. Barsoum, Drexel University

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