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.

New method to produce graphene nanoribbons could promote use in telecommunications applications

University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers have fabricated graphene into the smallest ribbon structures to date, using a method that is said to make scaling-up simple. In tests with these tiny ribbons, the scientists discovered they were closing in on the properties they needed to move graphene toward usefulness in telecommunications equipment.

Flexible, easy-to-scale nanoribbons move graphene toward use in tech applications imageImage credit: University of Wisconsin−Madison

“Previous research suggested that to be viable for telecommunication technologies, graphene would need to be structured prohibitively small over large areas, (which is) a fabrication nightmare,” says Joel Siegel, a UW–Madison graduate student in physics professor Victor Brar’s group and co-lead author of the study. “In our study, we created a scalable fabrication technique to make the smallest graphene ribbon structures yet and found that with modest further reductions in ribbon width, we can start getting to telecommunications range.”

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.

Duke team creates fully recyclable printed electronics

Researchers at Duke University have created transistors with three carbon-based inks. The all-carbon thin-film transistors were made using crystalline nanocellulose as a dielectric, carbon nanotubes as a semiconductor, graphene as a conductor and paper as a substrate. This type of component could assist in addressing the environmental problem of accumulation of electronics that are non-recyclable.

“Silicon-based computer components are probably never going away and we don’t expect easily recyclable electronics like ours to replace the technology and devices that are already widely used,” said Professor Aaron Franklin, an electrical engineer at Duke University. “But we hope that by creating new, fully recyclable, easily printed electronics and showing what they can do, that they might become widely used in future applications.”

Cambridge team designs GO-enhanced light rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries

University of Cambridge researchers have designed a lithium-ion battery that can be directly charged in sunlight. This was done in an effort to improve the general process of connecting solar panels to batteries to store energy when the sun is shining.

Lithium-ion battery soaks up the sun for recharge image

“The idea is to simplify how solar energy is harvested and stored,” says Michael De Volder, a mechanical engineer at the University of Cambridge who led the work. If the team can improve the efficiency and lifetime of the hybrid device, its cost will likely be lower than combining solar cells and batteries. “For the price of a battery, you get both functionalities,” he says.