16 February 2016
Physicists have discovered how electrons travel through the novel 2D material graphene.

Graphene is a one atom thick supermaterial made from carbon with unique properties and the potential to revolutionise many areas from electronics to transport and energy.

An international team of researchers with a crucial input from Lancaster University have discovered that electrons in graphene move like molecules in liquid water.

Dr Leonid Ponomarenko from Lancaster University said: “Graphene never stops surprising us.

“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.

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

“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.”