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Ever since graphene's discovery in 2004, scientists have looked for ways to put this talented, atomically thin 2-D material to work. Thinner than a single strand of DNA yet 200 times stronger than steel, graphene is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, and it can conform to any number of shapes, from an ultrathin 2-D sheet, to an electronic circuit.

Last year, a team of researchers led by Feng Wang, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and a professor of physics at UC Berkeley, developed a multitasking device that switches from a superconductor that efficiently conducts electricity, to an insulator that resists the flow of electric current, and back again to a superconductor.

Now, as reported today in the journal Nature, the researchers have tapped into their graphene system's talent for juggling not just two properties, but three: superconducting, insulating, and a type of magnetism called ferromagnetism. The multitasking device could make possible new physics experiments, such as research in the pursuit of an electric circuit for faster, next-generation electronics like quantum computing technologies.

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Category: Science