University of Manchester researchers have discovered new and "exciting" electronic properties of graphene
Nobel Prize winning scientists Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov led the team of researchers in conducting experiments on graphene to learn more about its electron-on-electron interaction.
The academics, who first discovered the world's thinnest material at the university in 2004, say that the research could open up the way to building devices with graphene such as touch-screens, ultrafast transistors and photodetectors.
"The further understanding of the electronic properties of this material will bring us a step closer to the development of graphene electronics," said Professor Novoselov.
Graphene is a novel two-dimensional material which can be seen as a monolayer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.
It possesses a number of unique properties, such as extremely high electron and thermal conductivities due to very high velocities of electrons and high quality of the crystals, as well as mechanical strength.
Scientists from Manchester, Madrid and Moscow have studied in detail the effect of interactions between electrons on the electronic properties of graphene, by suspending sheets of graphene in a vacuum.
This is so most of the unwanted scattering mechanisms for electrons in graphene are eliminated, enhancing the effect of electron-on-electron interaction so that these interactions can be clearly seen.
The reason for such unique electronic properties is that electrons in this material are very different from those in any other metals as they mimic massless relativistic particles – such as photons.
Due to such properties graphene is sometimes called 'CERN on a desk' – referencing the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.
Professor Geim and Professor Novoselov's pioneering work won them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for "groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene".
They used Scotch tape to peel away layers of carbon from a piece of graphite, and were left with a single atom thick, two dimensional film of carbon – graphene.
"The progress have been possible due to quantum leap in improvement of the sample quality which could be produced at The University of Manchester," Professor Geim said.