UBC researchers create first superconducting graphene sheet

Ultra-strong, lithium coated material marks next step toward nanoscale quantum devices.

0 September 10, 2015
by Design Engineering staff

University of British Columbia physicists have been able to create the first superconducting graphene sample by coating it with lithium atoms.  (photo credit: University of British Columbia)

University of British Columbia physicists have been able to create the first superconducting graphene sample by coating it with lithium atoms.
(photo credit: University of British Columbia)

Physicists at the University of British Columbia (UBC) announced the creation of the first superconducting graphene sample by coating it with lithium atoms. Roughly 200 times stronger than steel, scientists worldwide hope to make fast transistors, semiconductors, sensors and transparent electrodes using the single layer of carbon atoms.

“This first experimental realization of superconductivity in graphene promises to usher us in a new era of graphene electronics and nanoscale quantum devices,” says Andrea Damascelli, director of UBC’s Quantum Matter Institute and lead scientist of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study outlining the discovery.

The researchers, which include colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research through the joint Max-Planck-UBC Centre for Quantum Materials, prepared the Li-decorated graphene in ultra-high vacuum conditions and at ultra-low temperatures (5 K or -449 F or -267 C), to achieve the breakthrough.

“This is an amazing material,” says Bart Ludbrook, first author on the PNAS paper and a former PhD researcher in Damascelli’s group at UBC. “Decorating monolayer graphene with a layer of lithium atoms enhances the graphene’s electron-phonon coupling to the point where superconductivity can be stabilized.”

The UBC researchers say the ability to induce superconductivity in single-layer graphene promises significant cross-disciplinary impacts. According to financial reports, the global market for graphene reached $9 million in 2014 with most sales in the semiconductor, electronics, battery, energy and composites industries.
http://qmi.ubc.ca


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