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Mar 23, 2017 11:40 AM EDT

Thinnest Silver Layer That Could Revolutionize Technology

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A team of University of Michigan researchers have created the thinnest and smoothest layer of silver there is. The thin silver film has a possibility to revolutionize the consumer electronics industry.

The thin silver film is reportedly around seven nanometers thick and was produced by combining silver and a wee amount of aluminum. The aluminum is added to solve two problems that occur in silver.

First of all, if pure silver is exposed to air, it becomes tarnished destroying the aesthetic beauty of the mineral. By adding aluminum, however, ;the material becomes resistant to tarnishing even when exposed to air.

Secondly, silver has a tendency to cluster together so it is impossible to create a thin even film out of it. Again, aluminum comes to the rescue enabling the scientists to create a seven-nanometer thick silver film.

To make the silver film more transparent, the team also added an anti-reflective coating which increase the transparency to 924 percent. The researchers said that the silver coating could guide light 10 times faster than the usual metal waveguides. This means the silver film could be used to make charging faster and end energy consumption lesser.

The team also tested the silver film using infrared and visible light. The researchers observed that the light waves traveled as plasma polaritons, which shrink and allow information to travel like optic cables. The experiment shows that the material could also be used to increase the processing power of a computer chip.

The UM team said that the uses of the thinnest silver layer are endless. In fact, it can become a cheap alternative to indium tin oxide, the material used in the screens of most mobile devices.

The study is published in the journal Advanced Materials.

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