Graphene could be the superhero of materials – it’s light, strong and conducts heat and electricity effectively, which makes it a great material for potential use in all kinds of electronics. And because it’s made from carbon atoms, graphene is cheap and plentiful. Its electric and mechanical properties also affect one another in unique ways. But before freestanding graphene can live up to its potential, scientists need to be able to control these properties.
A group of physicists from the University of Arkansas and other institutions have developed a technique that allows them to control the mechanical property, or strain, on freestanding graphene, sheets of carbon one-atom thick suspended over the tops of tiny squares of copper. By controlling the strain on freestanding graphene, they also can control other properties of this important material.
“If you subject graphene to strain, you change its electronic properties,” said physics professor Salvador Barraza-Lopez. Strain on freestanding graphene causes the material to behave as if it is in a magnetic field, even though no magnets are present, a property that scientists will want to exploit -- if they can control the mechanical strain.
To control the mechanical strain, University of Arkansas researchers developed a new experimental approach. Physicists Peng Xu, Paul Thibado and students in Thibado’s group examined freestanding graphene membranes stretched over thin square “crucibles,” or meshes, of copper. They performed scanning tunneling microscopy with a constant current to study the surface of the graphene membranes. This type of microscopy uses a small electron beam to create a contour map of the surface. To keep the current constant, researchers change the voltage as the scanning tunneling microscope tip moves up and down, and the researchers found that this causes the freestanding graphene membrane to change shape.
“The membrane is trying to touch the tip,” Barraza-Lopez said. They discovered that the electric charge between the tip and the membrane influences the position and shape of the membrane. So by changing the tip voltage, the scientists controlled the strain on the membrane. This control becomes important for controlling the pseudo-magnetic properties of graphene.
In conjunction with the experiments, Barraza-Lopez, Yurong Yang of the University of Arkansas and Nanjing University, and Laurent Bellaiche of the University of Arkansas examined theoretical systems involving graphene membranes to better understand this new-found ability to control the strain created by the new technique. They verified the amount of strain on these theoretical systems and simulated the location of the scanning tunneling microscopy tip in relation to the membrane. While doing so, they discovered that the interaction of the membrane and tip depends upon the tip’s location on the freestanding graphene. This allows scientists to calculate the pseudo-magnetic field for a given voltage and strain.
“If you know the strain, you can use theory and compute how big the pseudo-magnetic field may be,” said Barraza-Lopez. They found that because of the boundaries created by the square copper crucible, the pseudo-magnetic field swings back and forth between positive and negative values, so scientists are reporting the maximum value for the field instead of a constant value.
“If you were able to make the crucibles triangular, you would be closer to having non-oscillating fields,” Barraza-Lopez said. “This would bring us closer to using this pseudo-magnetic property of graphene membranes in a controlled way.”The researchers report their findings in Physical Review B Rapid Communications.
Melissa Lutz Blouin | Newswise Science News
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy