Researchers discover a correlated electron-hole state in double-bilayer graphene

A team of researchers, led by Klaus Ensslin and Thomas Ihn at the Laboratory for Solid State Physics at ETH Zurich, together with colleagues at the University of Texas in Austin (USA), has observed a novel state in twisted bi-layer graphene. In that state, negatively charged electrons and positively charged (so-called) holes, which are missing electrons in the material, are correlated so strongly with each other that the material no longer conducts electric current.

An insulator made of two conductors imageImage by Peter Rickhaus / ETH Zurich (taken from Nanowerk)

“In conventional experiments, in which graphene layers are twisted by about one degree with respect to each other, the mobility of the electrons is influenced by quantum mechanical tunneling between the layers”, explains Peter Rickhaus, a post-doc and lead author of the study. “In our new experiment, by contrast, we twist two double layers of graphene by more than two degrees relative to each other, so that electrons can essentially no longer tunnel between the double layers.”

'Magic angle' trilayer graphene found to act as rare "spin-triplet" superconductor

Researchers at MIT and Harvard University have previously found that graphene can have exotic properties when situated at a 'magic angle'. Now, a new study by some of the members of the same team shows that this material could also be a "spin-triplet" superconductor – one that isn't affected by high magnetic fields – which potentially makes it even more useful.

"The value of this experiment is what it teaches us about fundamental superconductivity, about how materials can behave, so that with those lessons learned, we can try to design principles for other materials which would be easier to manufacture, that could perhaps give you better superconductivity," says physicist Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Researchers turn 'magic angle graphene' into insulator or superconductor by applying an electric voltage

Researchers at ETH Zurich, led by Klaus Ensslin and Thomas Ihn at the Laboratory for Solid State Physics, have succeeded in turning specially prepared graphene flakes either into insulators or into superconductors by applying an electric voltage. This technique is even said to work locally, meaning that in the same graphene flake regions with completely different physical properties can be realized side by side.

A material-keyboard made of graphene imageThe material keyboard realized by the ETH Zurich researchers. Image by ETH Zurich/F. de Vries

The material Ensslin and his co-​workers used is known as “Magic Angle Twisted Bilayer Graphene”. The starting point for the material is graphene flakes - the researchers put two of those layers on top of each other in such a way that their crystal axes are not parallel, but rather make a “magic angle” of exactly 1.06 degrees. “That’s pretty tricky, and we also need to accurately control the temperature of the flakes during production. As a result, it often goes wrong,” explains Peter Rickhaus, who was involved in the experiments.

Researchers take a step towards achieving topological qubits in graphene

Researchers from Spain, Finland and France have demonstrated that magnetism and superconductivity can coexist in graphene, opening a path towards graphene-based topological qubits.

Schematic illustration of the interplay of magnetism and superconductivity in a graphene grain boundary imageSchematic illustration of the interplay of magnetism and superconductivity in a graphene grain boundary, a potential building block for carbon-based topological qubits Credit: Jose Lado/Aalto University

In the quantum realm, electrons can behave in interesting ways. Magnetism is one of these behaviors that can be seen in everyday life, as is the rarer phenomena of superconductivity. Intriguingly, these two behaviors are often antagonists - the existence of one of them often destroys the other. However, if these two opposite quantum states are forced to coexist artificially, an elusive state called a topological superconductor appears, which is useful for researchers trying to make topological qubits.

Researchers produce extremely conductive graphene-enhanced hydrogel for medical applications

An interdisciplinary research team of the Research Training Group (RTG) 2154 "Materials for Brain" at Kiel University (CAU) has developed a method to produce graphene-enhanced hydrogels with an excellent level of electrical conductivity. What makes this method special is that the mechanical properties of the hydrogels are largely retained. The material is said to have potential for medical functional implants, for example, and other medical applications.

"Graphene has outstanding electrical and mechanical properties and is also very light," says Dr. Fabian Schütt, junior group leader in the Research Training Group, thus emphasizing the advantages of the ultra-thin material, which consists of only one layer of carbon atoms. What makes this new method different is the amount of graphene used. "We are using significantly less graphene than previous studies, and as a result, the key properties of the hydrogel are retained," says Schütt about the current study, which he initiated.