Researchers at Stanford University (USA) and the National Research Council (CSIC) have developed a material that mimics the exotic properties of graphene. The work, published this week in Nature, opens the way to synthesize large-scale materials with properties similar to graphene and as new devices.

An international team involving the researcher of the Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (CSIC) Francisco Guinea has managed to manufacture a material that mimics the exotic properties of graphene. The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Nature, may help to synthesize materials with properties qualitatively similar to graphene on a large scale and to have new devices to measure.

graphene

Graphene, halfway between a metal and a semiconductor, is two dimensional and is characterized by having a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice; is clear, impermeable, tough and elastic and has certain deformation resulting in very high magnetic fields. When the Nobel Prize in Physics 2010 Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, University of Manchester, were able to isolate this material for eight years, also opened the doors to knowledge of these unique properties.

“Electrons in graphene behave like elementary particles of zero mass, i.e, they move at speeds approaching that of light. Furthermore, the deformations of the lattice-like effects of a magnetic field, but much higher than can be obtained in a laboratory on Earth, “says Guinea, coauthor of the study and National Research Prize in Physics 2011.

A possible replacement

These features are reproduced now placing molecules of carbon monoxide (CO) “at appropriate positions” on a copper surface. Drawing on a scanning electron microscope, scientists were able to “push” these molecules. The spread of the electrons along the copper surface was modified by the molecules, resulting properties qualitatively similar to those of graphene.

Scientists have been working with this material and believe that applications, in fields as diverse as electronics, mobile telephony, aeronautics hydrocarbons processors will not wait. The main problem is still not possible to have sufficient quantities for large scale manufacturing.

According to Guinea, the manufacturing method described in this work represents a further step in the procurement of materials with properties similar to graphene, but amplified or modified. “Our method allows us to get all kinds of distortions and Pseudo-magnetic fields. In addition, we have achieved a degree of control of these properties in graphene is very difficult to get”, he adds.

The production and subsequent characterization of the new material have been conducted at the University of Stanford, California (United States). The results have been compared with theoretical models developed at the Institute of Materials Science of Madrid (CSIC).