COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- University of Maryland physicists have shown that in graphene the intrinsic limit to the mobility, a measure of how well a material conducts electricity, is higher than any other known material at room temperature. Graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of graphite, is a new material which combines aspects of semiconductors and metals.
Their results, published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, indicate that graphene holds great promise for replacing conventional semiconductor materials such as silicon in applications ranging from high-speed computer chips to biochemical sensors.
A team of researchers led by physics professor Michael S. Fuhrer of the university's Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, and the Maryland NanoCenter said the findings are the first measurement of the effect of thermal vibrations on the conduction of electrons in graphene, and show that thermal vibrations have an extraordinarily small effect on the electrons in graphene.
In any material, the energy associated with the temperature of the material causes the atoms of the material to vibrate in place. As electrons travel through the material, they can bounce off these vibrating atoms, giving rise to electrical resistance. This electrical resistance is "intrinsic" to the material: it cannot be eliminated unless the material is cooled to absolute zero temperature, and hence sets the upper limit to how well a material can conduct electricity.
In graphene, the vibrating atoms at room temperature produce a resistivity of about 1.0 microOhm-cm (resistivity is a specific measure of resistance; the resistance of a piece material is its resistivity times its length and divided by its cross-sectional area). This is about 35 percent less than the resistivity of copper, the lowest resistivity material known at room temperature.
"Other extrinsic sources in today's fairly dirty graphene samples add some extra resi
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University of Maryland