When it comes to graphene, it appears that superconductivity runs in the family.
Graphene is a single-atom-thin material that can be exfoliated from the same graphite that is found in pencil lead. The ultrathin material is made entirely from carbon atoms that are arranged in a simple hexagonal pattern, similar to that of chicken wire. Since its isolation in 2004, graphene has been found to embody numerous remarkable properties in its single-layer form.
In 2018, MIT researchers found that if two graphene layers are stacked at a very specific “magic” angle, the twisted bilayer structure could exhibit robust superconductivity, a widely sought material state in which an electrical current can flow through with zero energy loss. Recently, the same group found a similar superconductive state exists in twisted trilayer graphene — a structure made from three graphene layers stacked at a precise, new magic angle.
Now the team reports that — you guessed it — four and five graphene layers can be twisted and stacked at new magic angles to elicit robust superconductivity at low temperatures. This latest discovery, published in Nature Materials ("Robust superconductivity in magic-angle multilayer graphene family"), establishes the various twisted and stacked configurations of graphene as the first known “family” of multilayer magic-angle superconductors. The team also identified similarities and differences between graphene family members.
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