Chemistry Related
Structure of empty clathrate-II. Reprinted with permission from Nature Magazine.
For the first time, a low-density form of the element germanium has been created by a team of researchers from the University of Houston and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Germany. UH Associate Professor of Chemistry Arnold Guloy led the research.

Their findings, titled “A guest-free germanium clathrate,” were published in the September 21 issue of Nature magazine.

“The synthesis of this new form of germanium, which has a low-density, open-caged structure with the potential to emit light, should allow for new avenues of research in the germanium semiconductor,” said John Bear, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

As an important semiconductor material, germanium has thousands of applications that range from use in fiber optics communications networks to infrared night vision systems. Anything that is computerized or uses radio waves uses semiconductors.

This breakthrough will allow scientists to design high efficiency thermoelectrics, gain a better understanding of superconductivity in this class of materials, and create more new materials based on Guloy’s synthetic technique, in addition to other yet unforeseen applications.

© University of Houston 2006