Meanwhile, simply making germanene and silicene is a feat. The discovery and characterization of graphene was an exciting and important piece of science, but at least graphene was easy to create. Carbon atoms often naturally take on the hexagonal, "honeycomb" arrangements that characterize graphene, silicene and germanene. On the other hand, atoms of silicon and germanium don't like arranging themselves in this way. Before some recent theoretical work, chemists thought silicene and germanene couldn't exist, Le Lay says.