Argon, the electron’s most abundant electron, is present in a typical single-gigabyte of silicon, but is almost absent in graphene.
This means the material has a very large volume of electrons.
“That’s not the case in graphene,” says lead researcher James Fink, an electrical engineering professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“We’ve found a large amount of electrons,” says Fink.
“In fact, the amount of electron density in a gm is almost three times greater than the electron density of a single atom.”
In graphene, the electrons are arranged in a lattice of carbon atoms.
“Graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity,” Fink says.
“It can handle extremely high voltages, it can conduct electricity well above 1,000 volts, it conducts very well under low temperatures, and it conducts electricity well over 1,100 volts.”
“It has a high electrical conductivity, it has excellent thermal conductivity and it can tolerate very high temperatures,” he adds.
The team found that a single electron can form a lattish structure with more than 300 atoms of carbon in it.
These atoms can then be attached to graphene.
Fink and his colleagues have published their findings in a paper published in Physical Review Letters.
In their experiments, the researchers observed how the electrons react with each other.
In this experiment, the team made two identical gm sheets and then placed them side by side.
“What they found is that if you put the two sheets side by edge, they have the same amount of energy,” Finks says.
The researchers then created a new sheet and placed it in front of the old one.
The new sheet acted like a sponge that absorbed the energy of the new sheet, and both sheets were able to conduct electricity.
The amount of power that can be transferred is dependent on how the two gm layers interact.
The electrons of the newly created sheet, on the other hand, did not react.
“The new sheet acts like a resistor,” FINK says.
In the next step, they took these two sheets and placed them in a laboratory.
The two sheets were then placed side by one another and the researchers recorded the electrical signals generated by the sheets.
Finks and his team measured the electrical properties of the sheets and used the results to calculate the energy transfer.
“Our findings suggest that electrons can move between sheets, but they do not necessarily transfer the energy between sheets,” Finkle says.
One of the important points of this study, he says, is that “it suggests that the electrons don’t necessarily interact with each another.
They can move, but there’s no interaction.
That’s really important.”
Fink adds that there are other ways to transfer energy in graphene, such as by passing electrons around the structure.
“If you put electrons in one place and you put them in another place and they collide, you’ll get an electric field, which is what you want to be doing,” Finking says.
Finking’s team hopes to use their results to develop a new material that could be used in future electronic circuits.
“There’s a lot of interest in this area,” Finski says.
It’s not clear yet whether the new material will become a standard in electronics.
“One of the main problems we have is that we have to make these materials,” Fisk says.
He says that “one of the things that makes graphene an attractive material is that it’s very conductive and conductive in the presence of other materials.”
The researchers are now working on the next steps in their research.
“Right now, we are trying to get this to commercial production,” Funk says.