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Graphene Conducts Electricity Ten Times Better Than Expected 161

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-you-current-on-graphene dept.
ananyo writes "Physicists have produced nanoribbons of graphene — the single-atom-thick carbon — that conduct electrons better than theory predicted even for the most idealized form of the material (abstract). The finding could help graphene realize its promise in high-end electronics, where researchers have long hoped it could outperform traditional materials such as silicon. In graphene, electrons can move faster than in any other material at room temperature. But techniques that cut sheets of graphene into the narrow ribbons needed to form wires of a nano-scale circuit leave ragged edges, which disrupt the electron flow. Now a team led by physicist Walt de Heer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta has made ribbons that conduct electric charges for more than 10 micrometres without meeting resistance — 1,000 times farther than in typical graphene nanoribbons. The ribbons made by de Heer's team in fact conduct electrons ten times better than standard theories of electron transport they should, say the authors."
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Graphene Conducts Electricity Ten Times Better Than Expected

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  • Apparently carbon isn't very good at introspection...
  • How soon before they can commercialize it to produce macroscopic wires that are used outside of an IC package?

    Then produce big enough cables of wire to deliver electricity long distance?

    And produce these wires economically?
    • by glwtta (532858)
      Is transmission speed an issue with long distance electrical cables?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @12:07PM (#46186653)

      Graphene has very high conductivity for what it is: a monoatomic layer. This is important in ICs where certain material thicknesses are in the nanometres. Also graphene has a very specific and uniform thickness, which solves uniformity problem when trying to deposit 1 nm material uniformly across 300 mm wafers. But when you can afford to increase the thickness (in macroscopic systems), metals become much more conductive than "macroscopic grahene," which is just regular graphite and is not so conductive. Actually graphite is used as electronic resistors and in certain heater elements (as it is conductive enough to pass large currents, but resistive enough to heat a lot by Joule effect and finally stands very well high temperatures).

      • by HiThere (15173)

        You are conflating two seprate concepts. Graphene and bulk graphite are not the same, even though graphite is largely composed of small layers of graphene. Much of the insulation/resistive nature of the graphite is due to the poor mesh between the different pieces of graphite. If this can be solved, then it's not implausible that conductive graphite wires would be possible. I'm not sure about practical. Joining pieces of graphene while maintaining smooth edges sounds quite difficult. And you would nee

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am skeptical about such an extraordinary claim.

    Side note: Please, stop with the "fuck beta" campaign; I find this campaign FAR MORE DISRUPTIVE to the enjoyment of /. than the beta itself. Get over Yourselves already.

    • Please, stop with the "fuck beta" campaign; I find this campaign FAR MORE DISRUPTIVE to the enjoyment of /. than the beta itself

      An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fuck beta now, or be fucked by it forever.

    • I'm skeptical about the claim as well. If it's true, that's far more exciting news than "better conductivity". It tells us our models are wrong. If we crack the puzzle, who knows what our new models could predict about new materials?

      Which is why I'm skeptical. The summary only mentions the "better conductivity", which leads me to believe "10x better than the standard theory says" is more like:
      Researcher 1: What's the conductivity going to be?
      Researcher 2: Graphene is basically just pencil lead - so run

    • Side note: Please, stop with the "fuck beta" campaign; I find this campaign FAR MORE DISRUPTIVE to the enjoyment of /. than the beta itself. Get over Yourselves already.

      It will die down on its own eventually as people grow tired of yelling and not being heard. We don't live in an age in which protests are appreciated or encouraged anymore. Unfortunately, this will probably lead the powers to be behind the site design to believe that this meant it was just a vocal minority and that the majority of Slashdot is chill with the redesign or have "come around" on it. That will be wrong, but such self-delusion is inevitable.

      There's obviously heavy personal investment in the tim

  • Real question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday February 07, 2014 @11:59AM (#46186567)

    While it is interesting to see the advances with graphene, if used to make super fast computers, isn't the "wiring" on the chip only a small part of the problem? Have they found a way to make the transistors and resistors and parts on the chip out of graphene? If not, wouldn't the speed improvements be nonexistent? It would seem that it would be like taking a super highway and bringing all the traffic down to one lane at the exits (or maybe a bridge in NJ).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Narcocide (102829)

      I'd imagine that the immediate benefits would be: lower power requirements and less heat at equivalent speeds (which can indirectly lead to higher safe clock-speeds) as well as bigger limits on max physical bus lengths due to extremely reduced latency.

    • Re:Real question (Score:5, Informative)

      by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Friday February 07, 2014 @12:26PM (#46186855)
      You are correct that using graphene [wikipedia.org] or carbon nanotubes [wikipedia.org] (which are close cousins) only for the wiring wouldn't gain you much; especially since large resistances can arise from the junctions between two conductors/materials.

      People are certainly investigating how to turn graphene and nanotubes into transistors. There have been demonstrations of using an applied voltage to mechanically 'kink' a nanotube so that its resistance changes. Thus it can be used as a non-volatile memory element. (The kinking is reversible and fast.) Others have looked into ways to 'dope' graphene by controlling what material it is sitting on top of (which changes its electrical properties, similar to doping atoms into silicon). Things like this can be used to make transistors out of these carbon nanomaterials; and in principle to do it in a way where the conducting carbon network is unbroken.

      Of course, the devil is in the details. We've seen demonstrations of many pieces of the puzzle, but turning it all into a technology (where you can build it all easily on a single substrate, in a scalable way, etc.) is still a ways off. But there is at least a chance these materials will pan out.

      P.S.: Don't let this comment distract from the legitimate outcry against Slashdot Beta.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        IBM and they typical universities are making pretty decent headway into the research on these. None ready for prime time but if you really want to keep read more on these methods this site isn't bad http://www.graphene-info.com/ (http://www.graphene-info.com/tags/graphene-applications/graphene-transistors?page=1).

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      better conductor = less heat for same voltage = more voltage = more stable clocks at higher speeds = win

  • I love it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @12:09PM (#46186677)

    For people who claim that science is wrong/bad/not complete - this is the kind of thing that research and study can do.

    The expected result was off by 10x. This doesn't mean that science sucks - but rather there is a new question to be answered that will allow us to understand the world just a little bit better.

    AWESOME.

    • Yes, the greatest advances in science haven't come about through carefully planned milestones paving the way towards a predetermined goal, but rather through someone peering at a report in surprise and saying wtf?

  • When electricity is conducted on a wire,are new electrons sent down the wire riding on the surface? Or are they pushed through the mass of existing electrons and cause one currently in line to bounced off the back end (like a newton's cradle)? Something Ive always wondered...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by oldhack (1037484)

      Hey slashdot, keep the javascript-free version.

      It's been decades since I took solid state physics courses, but here's what I remember.

      Conducting solid, like metal, is modeled as a single monolithic entity as opposed to a set of individual elemental atoms. Each atom's high(est) energy electrons become "free" electrons that can move about the whole solid with minimum provocation (i.e., voltage). So when electric field or voltage is applied across the solid, these free electrons bunch up towards positiv

    • The electrons are always moving, and fast, very fast, on all directions, with a zero average speed. Electrical current appears when their average velocity goes slightly above zero.

      It's not one electron bouncing in another that causes the movement, all electrons are equaly pushed by a potential. Bouncing is one of the causes of resistivity. What this istudy did was reducing bouncing to the point it become negligible, with the expected impact on resistivity.

      I hope that answers. It's like none of your options.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's very great news for graphene and everything that could be built out of it.
    But didn't these results just invalidate a theory? Is there someone that is actually looking why the current theory fails to explain the observed behavior?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is this article about graphene or as the comments suggest, about Beta?

  • And we expected it to be pretty bad.

    Fuck beta.

  • I wasn't going to join in the whinning but, what the hey.

    Something something BETA dark side!
  • ...to lower the resistance to the Slashdot beta.

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