Louis Pasteur once said, “chance favours the prepared mind”.

The Guinness book of records will have a new entry for 2014, the worlds thinnest sheet of glass, which is just two atoms thick.

Just like the discovery of penicillin, the discovery of the thinnest ever glass was a complete accident. Scientists at Cornell and Germany’s university of Ulm are credited with the find. They were actually working to produce pure graphene, when they noticed something resembling “muck” but on closer inspection using an electron microscope, they revealed an ultra thin layer made up of silicon and oxygen. The glass layer was most likely created when an air leak caused copper foil (used in graphene production) to react with their furnace which was made of quartz, which of course comprises, silicon and oxygen.

The core structure of glass has long been a topic for debate amongst scientists since the 30s and today’s discovery will go a long way to demystify some of the questions that have eluded scientists about the structure of glass for such a long time.

Using electron microscopy the Cornell group have been able to produce a picture revealing the precise arrangement of the atoms in the ultra thin glass, this is a first according to one of the scientists, Muller.

Much work is still to take place to improve reproducibility and quality of the samples, but it is not difficult to see a future where this discovery may aid transistor technology and the improved speed of computers and smartphones.