Among the unusual behaviors observed of electrons in strong magnetic fields are the quantum Hall effect and the fractional quantum Hall effect, where at low temperatures electrons also fall into quantized energy levels.
The new effect was discovered by accident when a UC Berkeley postdoctoral researcher and several students in Crommie's lab grew graphene on the surface of a platinum crystal. Graphene is a one atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern, like chicken wire. When grown on platinum, the carbon atoms do not perfectly line up with the metal surface's triangular crystal structure, which creates a strain pattern in the graphene as if it were being pulled from three different directions.
The strain produces small, raised triangular graphene bubbles 4 to 10 nanometers across in which the electrons occupy discrete energy levels rather than the broad, continuous range of energies allowed by the band structure of unstrained graphene. This new electronic behavior was detected spectroscopically by scanning tunneling microscopy. These so-called Landau levels are reminiscent of the quantized energy levels of electrons in the simple Bohr model of the atom, Crommie said.
The appearance of a pseudomagnetic field in response to strain in graphene was first predicted for carbon nanotubes in 1997 by Charles Kane and Eugene Mele of the University of Pennsylvania. Nanotubes are a rolled up form of graphene.
Within the last year, however, Francisco Guinea of the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid in Spain, Mikhael Katsnelson of Radboud University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and A. K. Geim of the University of Manchester, England predicted what they termed a pseudo quantum Hall effect in strained graphene . This is the
|Contact: Robert Sanders|
University of California - Berkeley