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Graphene Made Superconductive


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Graphene is a somewhat common topic when discussing future electronic technologies because it has some very useful properties, such as electrons flowing across it as though they have no mass. This means the all-carbon material has exceptional electron mobility, but these electrons do still flow with some resistance. Only electrons in superconductors move without any resistance, and now researchers at Tohoku University have discovered how to make graphene superconducting, combining these two amazing properties.

To achieve superconductivity, the researchers fabricated bilayer on a silicon carbide substrate. Next they inserted calcium atoms between the two atom-thick layers of graphene, creating a sandwich, and cooled it. At temperatures around 4 K (-269 ºC) the electrical resistivity of the material dropped quickly, as happens when superconductivity emerges. At just 4 K, this transition temperature is very low, but potentially replacing the calcium atoms with some other metal or increasing the number of graphene layers could raise it. Regardless, this is going to lead to new studies to try to understand what exactly is going on when electrons that move with no mass also move with no resistance.

Potential applications for superconducting graphene include ultrahigh-speed nano devices and quantum computers. If the transition temperature can be raised from 4 K, many more applications will become possible for this combination of highly desirable electronic properties.

Source: Tohoku University

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