It has long been postulated that graphene should undergo a superconducting transition, but can’t. The idea of this experiment was, if we couple graphene to a superconductor, can we switch that intrinsic superconductivity on?
Researchers have found a way to trigger the innate, but previously hidden, ability of graphene to act as a superconductor – meaning that it can be made to carry an electrical current with zero resistance.
The finding, reported in Nature Communications, further enhances the potential of graphene, which is already widely seen as a material that could revolutionize industries such as healthcare and electronics. Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms and combines several remarkable properties; for example, it is very strong, but also light and flexible, and highly conductive.
In the new study, researchers at the University of Cambridge managed to activate the dormant potential for graphene to superconduct in its own right. This was achieved by coupling it with a material called praseodymium cerium copper oxide (PCCO).
Superconducting graphene opens up many possibilities. The researchers suggest, for example, that graphene could now be used to create new types of superconducting quantum devices for high-speed computing.
The research was led by Dr. Angelo Di Bernardo and Dr. Jason Robinson, Fellows at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, alongside collaborators Professor Andrea Ferrari, from the Cambridge Graphene Centre; Professor Oded Millo, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Professor Jacob Linder, at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim.
“It has long been postulated that, under the right conditions, graphene should undergo a superconducting transition, but can’t,” Robinson said. “The idea of this experiment was, if we couple graphene to a superconductor, can we switch that intrinsic superconductivity on? The question then becomes how do you know that the superconductivity you are seeing is coming from within the graphene itself, and not the underlying superconductor?”
The study, p-wave triggered superconductivity in single layer graphene on an electron-doped oxide superconductor, is published in Nature Communications. (DOI: 101038/NCOMMS14024).