A brief word on a new supermaterial

Tom James @ 05-05-2009

graphene-transistorGraphene: a material consisting of a sheet of carbon atoms one atom thick. Graphene was first identified only a few years ago, and has since been proferred for all sorts of uses, including ultracapacitors, spintronics, and now as a light source:

Microchips is just one of the material’s potential applications. Because of its single-atom thickness, pure graphene is transparent, and can be used to make transparent electrodes for light-based applications such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or improved solar cells.

It is also apparently very strong:

The mobility of electrons in graphene — a measure of how easily electrons can flow within it — is by far the highest of any known material. So is its strength, which is, pound for pound, 200 times that of steel.

The problem is to find a way to mass-manufacture it:

The trick that enabled the first demonstrations of the existence of graphene as a real separate material came when researchers at the University of Manchester applied sticky tape to a block of graphite and then carefully peeled off tiny fragments of graphene and placed them on the smooth surface of another material.

“They don’t care if they go to a lot of effort to make five tiny pieces, they can study those for years.” But when it comes to possible commercial applications, it’s essential to find ways of producing the material in greater quantities.

[from Physorg][image from Physorg]


Magnetic currents and efficient memory

Tom James @ 10-10-2008

Japanese physicists have found something called the Spin Seebeck Effect that could lead to practical magnetic batteries:

Essentially, this spin-segregated rod now has two electrodes and serves as the basis for a new kind of battery that produces “spin voltage,” or magnetic currents, which have been difficult to produce. With this tool, physicists can work toward developing more kinds of spintronics devices that store information magnetically.

Magnetic information storage is inherently more efficient than storing information electronically because there is no waste heat.

This is an interesting development. There seems to be a lot going on in the world of practical applications for quantum dots, quantum cryptography and spintronics. I suspect it will be one of those areas that heralds a lot of unexpected innovation over the next few years and decades.

[image from Ella’s Dad on flickr]