Graphene, widely accepted as a wonder material perfectly positioned to revolutionise technology once we get around to working it all out, has just acquired its first superpower.
Japanese researchers have created what they call ‘superconductive graphene’, which allows for the immensely fast transport of electricity, placing another flag on a field of landmarks that’s growing rapidly.
A team from Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo has developed a way of growing “high-quality” graphene on a silicon carbide crystal (SiC), all by mastering the number of sheets needed.
What’s high quality? Well, electrons in graphene are pretty cool. They form a special state called Dirac-cone, behaving as if they have no mass and, therefore, acting very quickly.
In essence, that means graphene has a very high level of electrical conductivity, offering very little resistance. Very little, yet still some.
A bit cold
However, its superconductive properties have now been discovered, although it’s only achievable at -269oC, which is important for obvious reasons, namely that it’s wildly impractical at the moment.
As part of the researchers’ investigation, the idea of controlling the number of graphene sheets resulted in bilayer graphene, within which the researchers inserted calcium atoms (Ca).
They checked the electrical conductivity and noticed the lower the temperature the weaker the resistance, specifically when you reach -269oC.
Strangely, neither the genuine bilayer nor lithium-intercalated bilayer shows superconductivity per se, and it’s likely the superconductivity is coming from the electron transfer from Ca atoms to graphene sheets.
So, that’s superconductivity added to a growing portfolio of graphene’s amazing characteristics. For example, late last year, researchers discovered that if you stretch out the wonder material it creates a “powerful, adjustable and sustainable magnetic force”.
How? Well, watch this.
Electricity image via Shutterstock