It has been quite long since we discovered superconductivity, the phenomenal conduction with zero resistance. The catch? It requires near absolute zero temperatures, which renders it useless at normal room temperatures, the temperatures at which normal electronic equipments function. Resistance is a big problem in transporting electricity through cities, as a lot of power is lost due to joules heating (Power= Current(I)²x Resistance). If somehow we could reduce or remove this resistance, we could transfer electricity without losses.
A possible solution is this new conductor discovered by scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISc). The team was successful in discovering a process predicted around 20 years ago, which involved conducting electrons through the edges of graphene, practically without any resistance, and the cherry on top? At room temperature. Since the hexagonally arranged structure of carbon atoms, commonly called graphene, was invented in 2004, scientists and researchers began their efforts to discover this new ‘edge-conductor’. The proof of existence of conduction states at the edges of graphene was inferred from the observed local thermodynamic and magnetic properties. It was inferred that these one-dimensional zig zag edges of single or few layered graphene is perfect for conduction owing to the continuous states that offer conduction of electrons.
The trouble they faced was that in efforts to conduct electron through the edges, they also travelled through the bulk of the material, which increases resistance. The scientists at IISc tackled this problem by reducing the thickness of the bulk to around 10 nanometres, which increased the resistance of the bulk, and using clean edges. Since the highly resistive bulk now prevented electrons from passing easily, they preferred to travel through the zig-zag edges, with practically no resistance. The team quoted on the Institute’s website,” We believe that this successful demonstration of the dissipation less edge conduction will act as a great incentive to develop new chemical methods to make high-quality graphene nanoribbons or nanostrips with clean edges, which can lead to realising power-efficient electronics and to quantum information transfer, even at room temperature.”
Graphene is gradually becoming a common part in most of recent scientific achievements, and is surprising us with its wide uses and applications. This material can surely shape our future. This is a great step towards the future of electronics and energy consumption, and can be potentially more useful than superconductivity owing to its effectiveness at rooms temperatures. The paper titled “Quantized Edge Modes In Atomic-States Point Contacts In Graphene”, is published in Nature Nanotechnology. The team includes Arindam Ghosh, Amogh Kinikar, T Phanindara Sai, Semonti Bhattacharya and Manish Jain among others, all of them members of IISc. Happy Reading!
-The Cosmogasmic Person
Image Source: Indian Institute of Science Website