Electrons Move Like Honey In Graphene

First Posted: Feb 12, 2016 09:08 AM EST

For the first time, researchers have discovered electrons that move like slow-pouring honey in graphene, which is shedding new light on the fundamentals of physics, according to a study at the University of Manchester. Electrons tend to pass through metals like bullets, however, the researchers noticed that in graphene they tend to move like a viscous (thick) liquid, similar to honey. Researchers highlighted this high viscous flow of electrons in metals decades ago. However, even though numerous experiments have been conducted, this process had not been observed until now.

"Giving decades long efforts to find even minor signs of a viscous flow in metals, we were flabbergasted that graphene exhibited not just some small blip on an experimental curve but the clear qualitative effect, a large backflow of electric current," Marco Polini, coauthor of the study, said in a news release.

The team found that the electric current in graphene did not flow on the applied electric field, as it does in other materials. It actually moved backed backwards, creating whirlpools of circular currents that were visible. This circular motion is common among conventional liquids, such as water, which creates whirlpools when flowing around obstacles, like in rivers.

The researchers noticed that the unusual liquid in graphene is made up of electrons and not water molecules. The team found that this electron liquid can be 100 times more viscous than honey, even at room temperature.

"Graphene cannot stop amazing us. Now we need to think long and hard how to connect such contradictory behaviour as ballistic motion of electrons, which is undoubtedly seen in graphene, with this new quantum weirdness arising from their collective motion," said Andre Geim, coauthor of the study. "A strong adjustment of our understanding of the physics is due."

The findings of this study were published in the journal Science.

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