Researchers at Cambridge University say they have found a way for graphene to act as a superconductor. Until now, superconductivity in graphene has only been achieved by either doping it with, or placing it on, a superconducting material, which can compromise some of its other properties.
The study is also said to suggest that graphene could be used to make a transistor-like device in a superconducting circuit and that its superconductivity could be incorporated into molecular electronics. “In principle, given the variety of chemical molecules that can bind to graphene’s surface, this research could result in the development of molecular electronics devices with novel functionalities based on superconducting graphene,” said Dr Angelo Di Bernardo.
The researchers managed to get graphene to superconduct in its own right by coupling it with praseodymium cerium copper oxide (PCCO).
“It has been postulated that, under the right conditions, graphene should undergo a superconducting transition, but can’t,” said Dr Jason Robinson. “The idea of this experiment was to find out if we coupled graphene to a superconductor, could 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 team says it remains unclear what type of superconductivity has been activated, but thinks the results indicate that it is the ‘p-wave’ form – something academics have been to verify for more than 20 years.