The 2-D material germanene, a 'cousin of graphene', is made up of just a single layer of germanium atoms and is expected to exhibit impressive electrical and optical properties.
Germanene was first proposed in 2009 but remained elusive. Since then, graphene has been developed further and other 2-D materials, such as silicene, have been synthesized. Much like silicene, the proposed method for synthesising germanene is to deposit individual germanium atoms onto a substrate under high temperatures and in an ultra-high vacuum.
The breakthrough by the European research team was made in parallel with an independent team from China who have reported evidence that germanene has been synthesized onto a platinum substrate.