graphene (7)

Build Better Batteries...

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Electric field- and pressure-assisted fast sintering to control graphene alignment in thick composite electrodes for boosting lithium storage performance. Credit: Hongtao Sun, Penn State

Topics: Battery, Energy, Graphene, Green Tech, Lithium, Materials Science, Nanomaterials

The demand for high-performance batteries, especially for use in electric vehicles, is surging as the world shifts its energy consumption to a more electric-powered system, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and prioritizing climate remediation efforts. To improve battery performance and production, Penn State researchers and collaborators have developed a new fabrication approach that could make for more efficient batteries that maintain energy and power levels.

The improved method for fabricating battery electrodes may lead to high-performance batteries that would enable more energy-efficient electric vehicles, as well as such benefits as enhancing power grid storage, according to Hongtao Sun. Sun is an assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering at Penn State and the co-corresponding author of the study, which was published in and featured on the front cover of Carbon.

"With current batteries, we want them to enable us to drive a car for longer distances, and we want to charge the car in maybe five minutes, 10 minutes, comparable to the time it takes to fill up for gas," Sun said. "In our work, we considered how we can achieve this by making the electrodes and battery cells more compact, with a higher percentage of active components and a lower percentage of passive components."

If an electric car maker wants to improve the driving distance of their vehicles, they add more battery cells, numbering in the thousands. The smaller and lighter, the better, according to Sun.

"The solution for longer driving distances for an electric vehicle is just to add compact batteries, but with denser and thicker electrodes," Sun said, explaining that such electrodes could better connect and power the battery's components, making them more active. "Although this approach may slightly reduce battery performance per electrode weight, it significantly enhances the vehicle's overall performance by reducing the battery package's weight and the energy required to move the electric vehicle."

Thicker, denser, better: New electrodes may hold the key to advanced batteries, Jamie Oberdick, Pennsylvania State University, techxplore.

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Graphullerene...

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Credit: Nicoletta Barolini

Topics: Chemistry, Graphene, Materials Science, Modern Physics, Nanotechnology

Graphullerene, an atom-thin material made of linked fullerene subunits, gives scientists a new form of modular carbon to play with.

Carbon, in its myriad forms, has long captivated the scientific community. Besides being the primary component of all organic life on earth, material forms of carbon have earned their fair share of breakthroughs. In 1996, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to the discoverers of fullerene, a superatomic symmetrical structure of 60 carbon atoms shaped like a soccer ball; in 2010, researchers working with an ultra-strong, atom-thin version of carbon, known as graphene, won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Today in work published in Nature, researchers led by Columbia chemists Xavier Roy, Colin Nuckolls, and Michael Steigerwald, with postdoc and first author Elena Meirzadeh have discovered a new version of carbon that sits somewhere in between fullerene and graphene: graphullerene. It’s a new two-dimensional form of carbon made up of layers of linked fullerenes peeled into ultrathin flakes from a larger graphullerite crystal—just like how graphene is peeled from graphite crystals (the same material found in pencils).

“It is amazing to find a new form of carbon,” said Nuckolls. “It also makes you realize that there is a whole family of materials that can be made in a similar way that will have new and unusual properties as a consequence of the information written into the superatomic building blocks.”

Columbia Chemists Discover a New Form of Carbon: Graphene’s “Superatomic” Cousin, Ellen Neff, Quantum.Columbia.edu

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Graphene Beam Splitter...

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Splitting up: schematic of the electron beam splitter with the n side on the right and the p side on the left. (Courtesy: M Jo et al/Phys. Rev. Lett.)

Topics: Graphene, Interferometry, Nanotechnology, Quantum Computer

A graphene-based “beam splitter” for electronic currents has been built by researchers in France, South Korea, and Japan. Created by Preden Roulleau at the University of Paris and colleagues, the tunable device’s operation is directly comparable to that of an optical interferometer. The technology could soon enable allow electron interferometry to be used in nanotechnology and quantum computing.

An optical interferometer splits a beam of light in two, sending each beam along a different path before recombining the beams at a detector. The measured interference of the beams at the detector can be used to detect tiny differences in the lengths of the two paths. Recently, physicists have become interested in doing a similar thing with currents of electrons in solid-state devices, taking advantage of the fact that electrons behave like waves in the quantum world.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick and is widely considered to be the best material for realizing such “electron quantum optics”. Indeed, researchers have already used the material to make simple electron interferometers. Now, Roulleau’s team has created a fully adjustable electron beam splitter that could be used to build more sophisticated devices. It exploits the quantum Hall effect, whereby the application of a strong magnetic field perpendicular to a sheet of graphene will cause an electron current to flow around the edge of the sheet.

Graphene beam splitter gives electron quantum optics a boost, Sam Jarman, Physics World

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Quasiparticles, and Graphene...

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Telltale traces In this doping vs magnetic field conductance map, the magnetic field is varied along the vertical axis. Horizontal yellow streaks show Brown-Zak fermions propagating along straight trajectories with high mobility (low resistance), whereas slanted indigo lines show the cyclotron motion around Brown-Zak fermions. The slope of these lines enabled the researchers to obtain the degeneracy (and find an additional quantum number) of these new quasiparticles. (Courtesy: J Barrier)

Topics: Fermions, Graphene, Nanotechnology, Quantum Mechanics

Researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK have identified a new family of quasiparticles in superlattices made from graphene sandwiched between two slabs of boron nitride. The work is important for fundamental studies of condensed-matter physics and could also lead to the development of improved transistors capable of operating at higher frequencies.

In recent years, physicists and materials scientists have been studying ways to use the weak (van der Waals) coupling between atomically thin layers of different crystals to create new materials in which electronic properties can be manipulated without chemical doping. The most famous example is graphene (a sheet of carbon just one atom thick) encapsulated between another 2D material, hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), which has a similar lattice constant. Since both materials also have similar hexagonal structures, regular moiré patterns (or “superlattices”) form when the two lattices are overlaid.

If the stacked layers of graphene-hBN are then twisted, and the angle between the two materials’ lattices decreases, the size of the superlattice increases. This causes electronic band gaps to develop through the formation of additional Bloch bands in the superlattice’s Brillouin zone (a mathematical construct that describes the fundamental ideas of electronic energy bands). In these Bloch bands, electrons move in a periodic electric potential that matches the lattice and does not interact with one another.

New family of quasiparticles appears in graphene, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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Electron River...

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A river made of graphene with the electrons flowing like water.
Courtesy: Ryan Allen and Peter Allen, Second Bay Studios

 

Topics: Electron Configuration, Graphene, Nanotechnology


Electrons can behave like a viscous liquid as they travel through a conducting material, producing a spatial pattern that resembles water flowing through a pipe. So say researchers in Israel and the UK who have succeeded in imaging this hydrodynamic flow pattern for the first time using a novel scanning probe technique. The result will aid developers of future electronic devices, especially those based on 2D materials like graphene in which electron hydrodynamics is important.

We are all familiar with the distinctive patterns formed by water flowing in a river or stream. When the water encounters an obstacle – such as the river bank or a boat – the patterns change. The same should hold true for electron flow in a solid if the interactions between electrons are strong. This rarely occurs under normal conditions, however, since electrons tend to collide with defects and impurities in the material they travel through, rather than with each other.

Making electrons hydrodynamic

Conversely, if a material is made very clean and cooled to low temperatures, it follows that electrons should travel across it unperturbed until they collide with its edges and walls. The resulting ballistic transport allows electrons to flow with a uniform current distribution because they move at the same rate near the walls as at the center of the material.

If the temperature of this material is then increased, the electrons can begin to interact. In principle, they will then scatter off each other more frequently than they collide with the walls. In this highly interacting, hydrodynamic regime, the electrons should flow faster near the center of a channel and slower near its walls – the same way that water behaves when it flows through a pipe.

 

Electrons flow like water in ultra-pure graphene, Belle Dumé, Physics World

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Nanocones...

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A carbon nanocone includes nitrogen atoms around the periphery to improve the material’s solubility. Carbon atoms are shown in gray; hydrogen in white; nitrogen in blue; and oxygen in red.

 

Topics: Applied Physics, Chemistry, Graphene, Nanotechnology


Graphene, buckyballs, and carbon nanotubes now have a new family member, the nanocone, adding to the types of all-carbon nanostructures with remarkable electronic and optical characteristics and bringing its own promising properties. (J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2019, DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b06617) Such molecules could be useful for developing efficient organic solar cells or as sensor molecules.

Organic chemist Frank Würthner and postdoctoral researcher Kazutaka Shoyama of the University of Würzburg came up with the method for synthesizing the nanocones, which are 1.68 nm in diameter and 0.432 nm tall. A five-atom ring of carbons forms the cone’s tip. The team used a cross-coupling annulation cascade to add hexagons around the edges of the ring until the molecule grew to 80 carbons. The team added five nitrogen atoms around the periphery of the cone, increasing the crystal’s solubility.

 

Nanocones extend the graphene toolbox, Neil Savage, Chemical & Engineering News

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TBG and Ferromagnets...

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Magic angle graphene superlattice. Scale=10 nm. Courtesy: P Jarillo-Herrero

 

Topics: Ferromagnetism, Graphene, Hall Effect, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Nanotechnology


Researchers have found that electrons organize themselves into a new kind of ferromagnet in twisted bilayer graphene (TBG). In this system, which forms when two sheets of graphene are stacked on top of one another with a small twist angle between them, it is the orbital motion of electrons, rather than their spins, that aligns. Such behavior could produce emergent topological states that might be exploited in applications such as low-power magnetic memory in the future.

Graphene is a flat crystal of carbon just one atom thick. When two sheets of the material are placed on top of each other and misaligned by rotating them relative to each other, they form a moiré pattern. Last year, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that at a “magic” twist angle of 1.1°, the material becomes a superconductor (that is, it can carry currents with no losses) at 1.7 K. This effect, which occurs thanks to miniband flattening at this angle that strongly enhances interactions between electrons in the material, disappears at slightly larger or smaller angle twists.

A team of researchers led by David Goldhaber-Gordon of Stanford University has now found unambiguous evidence of ferromagnetism – as the giant anomalous Hall (AH) effect – in TBG when its flat conduction miniband is three-quarters filled.

 

Ferromagnetism appears in twisted bilayer graphene, Belle Dumé, Physics World

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