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Graphene Demonstrates Unprecedented Magnetic Characteristics at Room Temperature

Graphene is a two-dimensional material that is derived from graphite, with atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice

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After nearly 20 years since its discovery, research shows that graphene possesses the highest known magnetoresistance. Magnetoresistance refers to the ability of a material to change its electrical resistance in response to a magnetic field, and this property could potentially revolutionize data storage.

Graphene, which is composed of a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like structure, was already known for its exceptional strength, surpassing that of diamonds, as well as its superior electrical conductivity compared to copper.

Now, Andre Geim and his team at the University of Manchester in the UK have discovered that graphene also exhibits unparalleled magnetoresistance at room temperature.

To uncover this phenomenon, the researchers initially applied an electric field to graphene to balance the number of charge carriers it possesses. These carriers consist of electrons (with a negative charge) and holes (with a positive charge), and they are responsible for generating electric currents in materials.

Ordinarily, pristine graphene, which has a flawless honeycomb structure, has an equal number of electrons and holes. However, producing such a perfect graphene is challenging. Therefore, the researchers utilized an electric field to manipulate the structure of imperfect graphene, allowing them to study the material in a more pristine state.

Geim, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for his work on graphene, explains that flaws in the structure of the material impact its magnetoresistance.

Next, the scientists subjected the graphene to various magnetic fields and measured how its magnetoresistance changed. They found that even small magnetic fields induced significant changes in its electrical resistance.

This behavior is attributed to the high mobility of graphene’s electrons and holes, making them extremely sensitive to small fluctuations in an external magnetic field, as stated by the researchers in their study.

Most materials exhibit magnetoresistance only at very low temperatures. However, in this experiment, graphene displayed greater magnetoresistance at room temperature compared to any other material, including graphite and bismuth, as demonstrated in previous studies.

Magnetoresistant materials are already utilized in data storage devices to interpret information encoded as magnetic patterns on tapes or discs. The researchers plan to further investigate graphene, and its potential applications will ensue, according to Leonid Ponomarenko from Lancaster University in the UK as mentioned in a statement.

Antonio Helio Castro Neto from the National University of Singapore suggests that this discovery could open avenues for exploring fundamental physics.

Since graphene is a two-dimensional material, the movement of these charge carriers is restricted to a thin layer. Castro Neto emphasizes that in this regime, the interactions between electrons and holes become exceptionally strong, providing an opportunity to investigate and better understand the forces governing these interactions.

Topics:

  • chemistry /
  • materials science
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