Scientists discover that abundant minerals are proton conductors

A group of researchers from the University of Manchester has discovered that mica’s, a group of phyllosilicate minerals that are characterized by a certain layered structure, are excellent conductors of protons.

According to the press release published on the website of the English university itself, this discovery could be very important in the field of 2D materials and in general for devices such as fuel cells and other technologies related to hydrogen. The study, published in Nature Nanotechnology, describes how mica, despite being made of layers 10 times thicker than those of graphene, is extremely permeable to protons, even 100 times more than the graphene itself.

A result that seemed impossible because the mica’s seemed to be too thick compared to other monolayers that were completely impermeable to protons. Lucas Mogg, the first author of the study, describes the discovery as follows: “We have discovered that the conductivity of the proton in atomically thin mica’s is 10 to 100 times higher than in graphene. It is encouraging because graphene is already considered to be a promising conductor material. Our results show that mica’s can be even more promising, also because they are abundant and cheap.”

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Janice Walker

Janice Walker is a biologist (having graduated from Prescott College in 2013) and an experienced writer. She currently works as a pharmacist, contributing research and content to Home of Science during her nights and weekends. During her time at Prescott College she was an active contributor to her student journal and hopes to grow up as a well established, popular science blog.
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Janice Walker