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Seeing the electricity inside graphene for the first time

Seeing the electricity inside graphene for the first time

Image: The electron flow from gold leads to graphene obtained with the diamond quantum sensor, revealing imperfect contacts.

A research team, led by Professor Lloyd Hollenberg from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T) at The University of Melbourne, has used a special quantum probe based on an atomic-sized ‘colour centre’ found only in diamonds to “see” the flow of electric currents in graphene for the first time. No-one has previously been able to see what is happening with electronic currents in graphene, said Professor Hollenberg. According to Professor Hollenberg, this new technique overcomes significant limitations with existing methods for understanding electric currents in devices based on ultra-thin materials.

“The ability to see how electric currents are affected by these imperfections will allow researchers to improve the reliability and performance of existing and emerging technologies,” Professor Hollenberg said. “We are very excited by this result, which brings quantum probe-based imaging to the world of graphene nanoelectronics and quantum computers.”

Quantum computers will harness the power of atoms and molecules to perform memory and processing tasks, and have the potential to perform certain calculations significantly faster than any conventional computer. But next-generation electronic devices based on ultra-thin materials, including quantum computers, will be especially vulnerable to contain minute cracks and defects that disrupt current flow. The success of the new sensing technique means researchers now have the potential to observe how electrons move in such tiny structures.

Media issued by The University of Melbourne.

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