Graphene is a special material and ample of studies have confirmed properties of the material that will enable us to create electronics products like never before. In a new study researchers have demonstrated that electrons in graphene are extremely mobile and react very quickly and this they claim give graphene the potential of powering next generation electronics.
To demonstrate extremely high electron mobility in graphene researchers impacted xenon ions with a particularly high electric charge on a graphene film. Up to 35 electrons are removed from the xenon atoms leaving them with a very high positive electric charge. These ions were then fired at a free-standing single layer of graphene. After these ions completely passed through the film, they had a charge that was much less than when they did before they smashed into the film and passed through it.
Scientists say that this is astounding considering in that in case of any other carbon-based material, the impact of highly positively charged ions onto the material would have forced the carbon atoms to repeal each other and fly off in what is called a Coulomb explosion leaving a large gap in the material. However, in case of graphene that didn’t happen and instead positive charge in the graphene neutralised almost instantaneously.
This is only possible because a sufficient number of electrons can be replaced in the graphene within an extremely short time frame of several femtoseconds (quadrillionths of a second). This effectively means that the electronic response of graphene to the disruption caused by xenon ions is extremely rapid with strong currents from neighbouring regions of the graphene film promptly resupply electrons before an explosion is caused by the positive charges repelling one another.
This extremely high electron mobility in graphene is of great significance for a number of potential applications including ultra-fast electronics and optics among others. The study is published in Nature Communications.