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Science Technology

'Bizarre' Nanobubbles Found In Strained Graphene 84

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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  • 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 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 ZeroExistenZ ( 721849 ) on Friday July 30, 2010 @06:06AM (#33080752)

    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 [].

  • by mattr ( 78516 ) < minus cat> 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 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 [] months ago. Keep up with the literature, people!

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller