Superconducting graphene

University of British Columbia physicists have created the first superconducting graphene sample by coating it with lithium atoms (yellow), shown in this illustration. Credit: University of British Columbia

Researchers at the British Columbia University have managed to dope a graphene layer in such a way that it becomes a superconductor.

Superconductivity is a property discovered in some materials when they get cooled below a certain temperature. Once they become superconductors electrons move with no resistance, hence there is no heat dissipation, a holy grail for engineers. It means not wasting any power in cable, no heating in chips, amazing strength in magnetic fields....

So far graphene superconductivity was demonstrated in bulk of graphite, never on a single layer of graphene.  This, according to the researchers, opens up interesting possibility in future graphene based chips. 

We are still ten years away from such chips (my estimate) and moreover the superconductivity happens at 5.9°K (that is very close to absolute 0), a temperature that requires very sophisticated equipment and that is very expensive to obtain and maintain.

Actually, most of the work on superconductivity has been in searching for materials that can have superconductive characteristics at the highest possible temperature (ideally ambient temperature). The latest record for superconductivity high temperature has been set in August 2015 (last month) using Hydrogen Sulfide at a temperature of -70°C, amazingly high with respect to 0°K but still pretty cold if compared to ambient temperature.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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