Science!: Alligator Feeding Frenzy and More Squid Stuff

Lauren Admire | 2 Aug 2010 17:00

Graphene, despite being useful in its other, non-superhero form, graphite, can form super-strong pseudo-magnetic fields stronger than any ever seen. If you stretch a piece of graphene, the stress causes electrons to behave as if they were standing too close to a really big magnetic field. In scientific terms, this means that the bonds between atoms change, and electrons begin to move differently between them, creating nanobubbles. In laymen's terms, it just means: Whoa, cool!

Scientists have been looking at big magnetic fields for 100 years, but they have never been able to create one that lasted very long. The strongest magnetic field is 85 Tesla, and it only lasted a few thousandths of a second. When they tried to create anything stronger than that, the magnets would blow apart. Records indicate that the electrons inside a pseudo-electromagnetic field of graphene endure 300 Tesla. To put this in perspective, a normal MRI has a magnetic field of 1.5 or 3 Tesla. The Earth's own magnetic field registers around 0.00005 Tesla, and a small magnet is about 0.01 Tesla.

Michael Crommie, an author of the study, states that this property of graphene could have potential use in all types of electronic devices. "Controlling where electrons live and how they move is an essential feature of all electronic devices," says Crommie. "New types of control allow us to create new devices, and so our demonstration of strain engineering in graphene provides an entirely new way for mechanically controlling electronic structure in graphene. The effect is so strong that we could do it at room temperature."

Source: Popular Science


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