Boffins turbocharge electrons with graphene

Boffins turbocharge electrons with graphene

Electrons can travel over 100 times faster in graphene than in silicon

Physicists at the University of Maryland have turbocharged electrons by passing them through a revolutionary material dubbed graphene.

Graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of graphite, has an intrinsic limit to the mobility (a measure of how well a material conducts electricity) that is higher than any other known material at room temperature.

The researchers estimate that electrons flow 100 times faster through the material than through silicon.

The results, published in Nature Nanotechnology, indicate that graphene holds great promise for replacing conventional semiconductor materials such as silicon.

Maryland physics professor Michael S. Fuhrer noted that the findings are the first measurement of the conduction of electrons in graphene.

In any material, the energy associated with the temperature of the material causes the atoms of the material to vibrate in place.

As electrons travel through the material, they can bounce off these vibrating atoms, giving rise to electrical resistance.

This electrical resistance is "intrinsic" to the material: it cannot be eliminated unless the material is cooled to absolute zero, and hence sets the upper limit to how well a material can conduct electricity.

In graphene, the vibrating atoms at room temperature produce a resistivity of about 1.0 microOhm-cm.

This is about 35 per cent less than the resistivity of copper, the lowest resistivity material known at room temperature.