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Sheet of carbon atoms acts like a billiard table, physicists find
Date:9/17/2007

RIVERSIDE, Calif. A game of billiards may never get smaller than this.

Physicists at UC Riverside have demonstrated that graphene a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal rings can act as an atomic-scale billiard table, with electric charges acting as billiard balls.

The finding underscores graphenes potential for serving as an excellent electronic material, such as silicon, that can be used to develop new kinds of transistors based on quantum physics. Because they encounter no obstacles, the electrons in graphene roam freely across the sheet of carbon, conducting electric charge with extremely low resistance.

Study results appear in todays issue of Science.

The research team, led by Chun Ning (Jeanie) Lau, found that the electrons in graphene are reflected back by the only obstacle they meet: graphenes boundaries.

These electrons meet no other obstacles and behave like quantum billiard balls, said Lau, an assistant professor who joined UCRs Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2004. They display properties that resemble both particles and waves.

Lau observed that when the electrons are reflected from one of the boundaries of graphene, the original and reflected components of the electron can interfere with each other, the way outgoing ripples in a pond might interfere with ripples reflected back from the banks.

Her lab detected the electronic interference by measuring graphenes electrical conductivity at extremely low (0.26 Kelvin) temperatures. She explained that at such low temperatures the quantum properties of electrons can be studied more easily.

We found that the electrons in graphene can display wave-like properties, which could lead to interesting applications such as ballistic transistors, which is a new type of
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert

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