Scientists at Linköping University (LiU) in Sweden have developed a groundbreaking nanomaterial known as Goldene, described as the “gilded cousin of Graphene” by Nature. This one-atom-thick sheet of gold exhibits unique properties that hold promise for a wide range of applications, including carbon dioxide conversion, hydrogen production, water purification, and communication.

Shun Kashiwaya, a researcher at LiU’s Materials Design Division, highlights the extraordinary transformation that occurs when materials are reduced to extreme thinness. Gold, typically a metal, behaves as a semiconductor when engineered into a single-atom layer, akin to the properties observed in Graphene.

Creating single-atom sheets of gold has historically posed challenges due to the metal’s tendency to aggregate. However, the LiU researchers overcame this obstacle using Murakami’s reagent, a traditional Japanese smithing technique dating back a century. By employing an oxidizing reagent, they successfully etched away carbon residue, leading to the creation of Goldene. The process involved utilizing a three-dimensional base material comprising layers of gold sandwiched between titanium and carbon.

Lars Hultman, professor of thin film physics at LiU, acknowledges the serendipitous nature of Goldene’s discovery. Initially intended for a different purpose, the base material, consisting of electrically conductive ceramics called titanium silicon carbide, underwent unexpected transformation during exposure to high temperatures. The silicon layer within the material was replaced by gold, resulting in the formation of Goldene.

Looking ahead, the LiU researchers aim to explore whether other noble metals can undergo similar processes, potentially unlocking further innovative applications. The research received funding from various institutions, including the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Government’s Strategic Research Area in Materials Science, and Linköping University.

Goldene represents a significant advancement in nanomaterials, offering exciting possibilities for revolutionizing diverse fields and addressing pressing global challenges. As research continues, Goldene could emerge as a key player in shaping the future of materials science and technology.

By Impact Lab