Stronger than steel, harder than diamond, and incredibly flexibility, makes graphene an extraordinary material with a unique combination of characteristics. Thanks to its amazing features, it can be used in numerous applications in electronics, nanotechnology, medicine and biological devices.
Researchers continually develop materials with exceptional conductor abilities in a quest for more efficient current. When we say efficient current, it means a current which travels without losing energy. Graphene is a perfect material for such tests. Since achieving of superconductivity is a big deal MIT physicists have searched for a new method to unleash graphene’s superconductive power. And they found it! The ’magic of superconductivity’ happened when they put graphene in contact with other superconductors.
Sandwiched Between Superconductors
MIT physicists sandwiched a layer of graphene (just a few hundred nanometers wide) between aluminum and chilled to around -273.13 degrees celsius. At such a low temperature, aluminum behaves as a superconductor. More importantly, at this state, graphene has shown the ability to inherit some of the aluminum superconducting qualities. Finally, its electronic state changed dramatically, even at its center.
When researchers assumed that electrons in graphene acting as an individual, something unexpected happened. These electrons started to pair up into what’s known as Andreev states, which is a fundamental electronic configuration that allows a conventional, nonsuperconducting material to carry a supercurrent.
Electrons in a superconductor dance harmoniously in pairs, like a ballet, but the choreography in the left and right superconductors can be different. Pairs in the central graphene are frustrated as they try to satisfy both ways of dancing. These frustrated pairs are what physicists know as Andreev states. They are carrying the supercurrent, explained lead author of the study Landry Bretheau.
This research is one of many research that explores graphene’s superconducting potential. Recently, Australian scientists have found a way for its cheap production. There’s research being done that explores using graphene to develop better batteries, as well as a material for wearable electronics and photoelectronic devices. The results of the latest MIT’s study may be used to explore avenues for quantum computing. Indeed, with its strength, flexibility, hardness, conductivity and acidity the possibilities are limitless.