Graphene may power ultra-fast, next-generation, futuristic electronics, according to researchers, who have discovered that the electrons present in this 'wonder material' are extremely mobile and have the ability to react very quickly.
The graphene has an ability to transmit extremely high currents which makes it a potential building block for next-gen ultra-fast electronics, said researchers from Technische Universitat Wien (TU Wien) in Austria.
When particularly high electric charge on a graphene film impacts xenon ions, it ends up causing a larg number of electrons to be torn away from the graphene in a very precise spot.
However, the material replaced the electrons within some femtoseconds. This caused extremely high currents. This would not be maintained under normal circumstances.
Graphene turns out to be a very promising candidate for future applications in the field of electronics thanks to its extraordinary electronic properties.
“We work with extremely highly-charged xenon ions. Up to 35 electrons are removed from the xenon atoms, meaning the atoms have a high positive electric charge,” said Elisabeth Gruber from TU Wien.
A free-standing single layer of graphene, clamped between microscopically small brackets, then receives these ions.
“The xenon ion penetrates the graphene film, thereby knocking a carbon atom out of the graphene – but that has very little effect, as the gap that has opened up in the graphene is then refilled with another carbon atom,” said Gruber.
“For us, what is much more interesting is how the electrical field of the highly charged ion affects the electrons in the graphene film,” she said.
This process takes place even before the collision of the highly charged xenon ion with the graphene film.
The highly charged ion begins teating the electrons away from the graphene because of its extremely strong electric field.
By the time the ion has fully passed through the graphene layer, it has a positive charge of less than ten, compared to over 30 when it started out.
From a tiny area of the graphene film, the ion manages to extract more than 20 electrons from a tiny area of the graphene film.
This means that electrons are now missing from the graphene layer, so the carbon atoms surrounding the point of impact of the xenon ions are positively charged.
This extremely high electron mobility in graphene is of great significance for a number of potential applications.
“The hope is that for this very reason, it will be possible to use graphene to build ultra-fast electronics,” said researchers.
“Graphene also appears to be excellently suited for use in optics, for example in connecting optical and electronic components,” he added.
The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
(With inputs from PTI)