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'Bizarre' Nanobubbles Found In Strained Graphene 84

Posted by timothy
from the put-them-in-very-small-asylums dept.
schliz writes "Physicists have observed 'bizarre' behaviour in graphene electrons that they say could make the material even more suitable to replace silicon in future electronic devices. When strained in a particular manner, nanobubbles formed on a sheet of graphene, within which electrons came to occupy particular, quantum energy levels rather than the usual, continuous range of energies in unstrained graphene. By controlling electrons' energy levels, researchers could control how easily they moved through graphene — in effect, controlling their conductivity, optical, or microwave properties."
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'Bizarre' Nanobubbles Found In Strained Graphene

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  • FINALLY! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Michael Kristopeit (1751814) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:08AM (#33080608)
    #3 PENCILS!
  • by Smidgin (912451) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:20AM (#33080642)

    On the one hand, things like this are really cool and it's nice to know that there is a future for technology beyond silicon.

    On the other, at scales this small (1 atom thick!) it makes me realize how close we're getting to the fundamental limits that will prevent transistors getting denser or computers getting faster/better.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:44AM (#33080696)

      We are only reaching these fundamental limits because most research facilities insist on using closed source, proprietary software. If these organisations were to use open source software, like Linux, then people could inspect the source code of the software and make it better so that scientists could make more discoveries more quickly and overcome these 'fundamental' barriers.

      • We are only reaching these fundamental limits because most research facilities insist on using a closed source, proprietary universe. If these organisations were to use an open source universe, then people could inspect the source code of the universe and make it better so that scientists could make more discoveries more quickly and overcome these 'fundamental' barriers.

        Fixed that for you.

        Yeah, I know, it's not that good, but give me a break, it's still early.

      • AC has a good point! http://openlife.cc/ [openlife.cc] explains this idea quite well.

    • by dpilot (134227) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:51AM (#33080712) Homepage Journal

      Ten-twenty years ago, science fiction had this nifty thing called "nanotech" that did all sorts of neat stuff. We still don't have Drexler machines, grey goo, or atomic-scale Digi-Comps, but I've been working sub-100nM for around 10 years now, getting smaller every generation, so we're getting into the ballpark.

      But science fiction is not to be outdone, a few years back I read "Pushing Ice"by Alastair Reynolds. They had femto-tech.

      • by tenco (773732)

        But science fiction is not to be outdone, a few years back I read "Pushing Ice"by Alastair Reynolds. They had femto-tech.

        Really? Must have forgotten that. I mostly remember those networked slates that used distributed computing.

        • by dpilot (134227)

          The crew of the ship didn't have that stuff - it was the people from the far future. Remember the big cube they found?

      • According to Future Timeline [futuretimeline.net], femto-tech is not expected to come around until 2110.

        By the way, if you've never seen the site, it's quite an interesting read (if perhaps a bit optimistic).
      • I'm trying to figure out what the heck you're talking about. Strained graphene is there in the title. I KNOW it has something to do with http://www.gerber.com/AllStages/Products/2nd_Foods_Meats.aspx [gerber.com]

      • Well, naturally Sci-Fi evolves as our understand evolves. It's like if you're standing on a road, and where you are is what science has proven/built/made possible, then Sci-Fi is what you can vaguely see off in the distance as cut off by the horizon. As you walk more towards it, you see it more clearly and near-term Sci-Fi becomes clearer, while far term Sci-Fi, what we can barely glimpse on the horizon, becomes even more distant than Sci-Fi of the past.
        • by dpilot (134227)

          That's one of the reasons I've been collecting the works of E.E. "Doc" Smith. It's a lot of fun looking at his view of the future, especially "engineers setting up complex integrals on giant calculators." On the other hand, in the same era you have Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe" which is eerily prescient, even if the nomenclature is a bit off.

      • by renoX (11677)

        >getting smaller every generation, so we're getting into the ballpark.

        Getting in ballpark? Hardly!
        There's quite a difference between writing 'IBM' with atoms (cool trick though) and building self-replicating factories.

    • Nothing more than a poverty of imagination. Little more than a century ago atoms themselves were an unproven theory. A century from now we may be computing at subatomic scales, perhaps using EM instead of electrical currents, which would eliminate both the problem of transistor density and speed. (Research into EM acceleration may actually lead to FTL optical computing... light peak at warp speed so to speak.)
      • O rly? And how would this work exactly?

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          I'm a historian, not a physicist or engineer. Even if I were, could somebody who made typewriters a century ago tell you how a petaflop supercomputer would work? FFS, exaflop supercomputers are expected in a decade. All I know is that Light Peak [wikipedia.org] exists, and FTL EM research [bbc.co.uk] exists [universetoday.com], and that suggests at least a reasonable potential for FTL optical computing.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            Read a little more carefully. You can't use group velocity manipulation of the kind in the article you linked to transmit information faster than the speed of light. So no, there is as yet no reasonable potential for faster than light computing of any kind.

            • Did you even read the second article? There's a decade of development difference there, and yes, information has and can be transmitted faster than light. It really only makes sense, if ANY signal can be made to travel FTL, it's only a problem to put information into the signal.

              People have made the speed of light into some weird sacred thing, and the fact is it's just set value in certain conditions (specifically a vacuum) but under other circumstances light can both speed up or even be slowed down [harvard.edu] to the
              • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday July 30, 2010 @11:11AM (#33083268)

                The second article is about John Singleton and the polarization synchrotron. Unfortunately that article, which has been regurgitated all over the net gets WAY ahead of itself. I wasn't able to find out whether Singleton actually claimed faster than light data transmission while talking to that reporter (I very much doubt it) or if the reporter made it up, but no such thing was demonstrated.

                This [spacefellowship.com] article is about the same thing and Singleton specifically says that special relativity is not violated, which means no information could be transmitted faster than light. The description of what's going on also makes it clear that the effect is very similar to the "waving a laser at the moon" example (used by Singleton himself), which does not involve any information transmission.

                The speed of light in a vacuum (yes, when people say "the speed of light" in this context they mean in a vacuum) isn't the sacred thing. Nor is relativity. The real sacred principle is causality which, like the conservation of energy, has never been observed to be violated and would lead to all kinds of weird stuff if it ever were.

                Maybe someone will one day figure out how to transmit a signal faster than light. At present no one has even described theoretically how it might reasonably be done.

                You say you're not a physicist. May I suggest you take a bit more humble approach when criticizing actual physicists? Oh, and don't believe everything you read on the Internet.

                • How does something moving faster than light inherently violate causality? Causality is pretty simple, an effect cannot precede its cause. Big deal. No matter how much you speed something up, that doesn't make one dent in causality. If I could create a machine that could blow up rocks on Pluto with a latency of a second, even though that would require actions to occur at unimaginable speeds, that still wouldn't violate causality unless those rocks exploded before I pressed the button. And before you get your
                  • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                    Sorry, I'm not going to listen to you spout things like "and before you get your panties in a bunch about observation" and then patiently explain it to you. If you care to actually find out the answers to your questions (they do exist), then you can probably find them using Google.

                    "Just because I am not a physicist and suck at math does not mean that I cannot think and reason through what knowledge I have acquired."

                    That seems to be the problem. Some of the knowledge you've acquired seems to be inaccurate

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by BungaDunga (801391)

                    IANAPhysist either, but I am pretty good at math.

                    Yes, FTL communication leads to causality violation. The "tachyon pistols" is a thought experiment that explains it:
                    http://sheol.org/throopw/tachyon-pistols.html [sheol.org]
                    You can argue this, I guess, but it falls out of special relativity. If these experiments already done actually do propagate a signal faster than light then engineering a paradox would not be that hard, and that would be huge news.

                    "By carefully adjusting the frequency of the voltage and the phase disp

                  • by khayman80 (824400)

                    How does something moving faster than light inherently violate causality?

                    Like this. [dumbscientist.com]

    • by feranick (858651)
      You are confusing the limitations of current technology (silicon) with new technologies. You will never be able to have a stable single layer of Si, for example, but you can (and it's fairly easy to do) with carbon. Carbon electronics is VERY different from Si electronics, it behaves in a completely different way. In other words, we are not reaching any limitations, but we are in fact opening new ventures into fundamentally different materials with new and very different behaviors. Practically speaking: Gra
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:21AM (#33080646)

    "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...' " - Isaac Asimov.

    • Yes, but 'Eureka' resulted in a bit of spilled water. 'That's funny...' often ends in BOOM.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nacturation (646836) *

      "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...' " - Isaac Asimov.

      Thus, the quickest way to advance science is to take a bunch of straight-faced, literal scientists to see a comedian.

      • And on the other hand, the space elevator will not be developed until fifty years after everyone stops laughing. Now there's a paradox.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ZeroExistenZ (721849)

          And on the other hand, the space elevator will not be developed until fifty years after everyone stops laughing. Now there's a paradox.

          You are malinformed, the space elevator EXISTS today and was created by Albert Hofmann [wikipedia.org].

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Except in this case it would be "hey that's what those guys predicted would happen if we did this", which isn't really a "that's unexpected" moment.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Come on, mods, that was more insightful than funny. Even Dr. Asimov's humor carried insight. You may not know that Asimov wasn't just a science fiction writer, but was a scientist who wrote science books geared to people of average intelligence, as well as research papers in his field, biochemistry (which of course would have been written at a postdoctoral reading level). Asimov did cancer research at Boston University, as well as some teaching. His nonfiction science books garnered him the title of "The Gr

      • by sgtrock (191182)

        I ran across a copy of a history of Europe that he wrote back in the '50s or '60s while I was a young sprout in the U.S. Navy in the late '70s and early '80s. His take on all the back and forth squabbling among the all the interrelated royals and their impact on trade, religion, law, economics, etc. opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at the world. He is sorely missed.

  • This sounds really amazing.. quantum energy levels//
    quick someone make a toroid with this stuff !
    THEKPV [thekpv.com]
    The Hybrid Electric Kinetic Photovoltaic Vehicle
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      When I read TFA (the one from Berkley.edu) I wondered if the pseudomegnetic behavior of the electrons could be turned into real magnetism in macromaterials. Any physicists out there care to enlighten me?

      BTW, the second link in TFS was fascinating.

  • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Friday July 30, 2010 @05:31AM (#33080666)

    Released a statement that it was developing a new line of Graphene Calculators

  • ... too, many, commas, in, this, summary.
    • by Abstrackt (609015)

      It did have a rather amusing side effect of me hearing it in William Shatner's voice.

  • by commodoresloat (172735) on Friday July 30, 2010 @06:32AM (#33080828)

    as opposed to the ordinary nanobubbles that you normally come across when you're straining your graphene

  • exhibits ‘bizarre’ behaviour when put under strain, you mean like a women.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      exhibits 'bizarre' behaviour when put under strain, you mean like a woman.

      No, that would be "illogical and irrational" behavior, not bizarre behavior. And it doesn't even take strain.

  • by mattr (78516) <.mattr. .at. .telebody.com.> on Friday July 30, 2010 @07:46AM (#33081070) Homepage Journal

    IANAP but my understanding is that the physical deformations or "bubbles" make electrons move in circles and attain energy levels as if in a magnetic field of 300 Teslas.
    The LHC's cryogenically cooled magnets are only about 8 Teslas, and their substance theoretically can only handle 10T. The world record for continuous magnetic field is about 14T. The highest ever created explosively in the lab is 800T or so. So this is a really big (virtual) magnetic field. In other words the electrons must be at really high energy levels.

    Some questions:
    Is the energy level of the electron just a wierd quantum mirage-like thing? Or is it a real energy level that would release energy if allowed to drop down?
    If you dropped a wire vertically onto the plate, would it create a current?
    If you pop a bubble say from friction or maybe chemically what happens?
    Is there any way to use this to perform experiments that could only be done in 300 T magnetic fields?
    Are they really bubbles? Does one layer of graphene bloom up and expand into the top shell of the bubble?
    Is it vacuum or air inside?

    • By the way and underscoring that IANA physicist, the below quote and this page [wikipedia.org] seem to indicate that room temperature gives a thermal voltage of 25mV and the electrons whirling in the graphene are hundreds of millivolts higher. Room temp. is 300 Kelvin. If we interpret "hundreds" to be "at least 200 mV higher", then let's say 225 mV above 25mV gives us 250mV or 10 times the thermal voltage, which is proportional to the temperature, meaning 10 times 300K = 3000K. So this seems to say that the electrons wou

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Free electrons are already essentially a plasma. You can generate 9 V of potential (some 32 times what you're talking about) with a little 9 V battery. What happens if those electrons get out?

      • by mdmkolbe (944892)

        If I remember correctly, the thermal voltage is related only to the build-in voltage of a diode and has nothing to do with the average energy of electrons.

        Even aside from that, he is talking about energy-level separation not energy. It is important because it represents how much energy must be put into (or taken out of) the system to flip a bit (i.e. change an electron's energy state from one level to the next). If the background thermal noise is higher than the separation, then bits will just randomly fl

      • That is right, electrons on a metal have way bigger energy than what you'd expect from atoms at the same temperature. That happens because electrons are on a fermi condensate, and all the low energy states are ocupied. They don't follow the Boltzman distribution at all.

    • "In other words the electrons must be at really high energy levels."

      Probably not, the most likely is that the electrons have very small orbitals.

      By the way, electrons on a conductor normaly have energy equivalent to a several thousand Kelvin Boltzman distribution, but that is still way lower than what you imply.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      If you pop a bubble say from friction or maybe chemically what happens?
      Is it vacuum or air inside?

      The graphene is one atom thick, so "vaccuum" is meaningless in this context. These "bubbles" wouldn't pop.

      IANAP either, so if I'm mistaken I hope someone will correct me.

  • Please learn the correct, use of the comma. This sentence does not make any sense as it is written...
    "When strained in a particular manner, nanobubbles formed on a sheet of graphene, within which electrons came to occupy particular, quantum energy levels rather than the usual, continuous range of energies in unstrained graphene."

    otz.

  • by Chelloveck (14643) on Friday July 30, 2010 @09:44AM (#33081902) Homepage

    It's because electrons act as waves rather than particles in graphene sheets. Old news. Dr. Sheldon Cooper proved this [tv.com] months ago. Keep up with the literature, people!

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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