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Research sheds new light on graphene's electrical behaviour

19 February 2016

An international team of researchers has discovered that electrons in graphene move like molecules in liquid water, producing 'whirlpools' of electrical current.

Electrical currents in graphene form 'whirlpools' (conceptual illustration courtesy of Manchester University)

The research - published in the journal, Science - is by Lancaster University in collaboration with Manchester University’s National Graphene Institute and Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa.

“Graphene never stops surprising us," says Dr Leonid Ponomarenko from Lancaster University. “This regime of electron transport, known as hydrodynamic regime, has been predicted decades ago, but experimental observation has become possible only now. It turns out that electrons in graphene frequently collide with each other resulting in a new form of collective behaviour, which has not been observed in other conducting materials.”

Electrical currents in graphene form 'whirlpools' just like water does when a stream is being diverted. These whirlpools can then be detected in resistance measurements.

“A deeper insight into the hydrodynamic behaviour of electrons may help us in creating electronic devices with novel functionality, such as sensitive detectors and efficient sources of terahertz radiation,” adds Dr Ponomarenko.

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