Graphite valley

Graphite

Them chemists have been bewitched by carbon in recent years. Ya can’t move in chemistry departments without being abused ‘n’ bombarded with nanotubes, buckyballs and all mannner of carbononsense. But in all their hurry to blow their own carbon nanotrumpets, it loooks as if they missed a wonder material staring them in the face.

Now physicists are sayin’ that graphene is the material of their dreams and that it could revolitionize everything from fundamental physics to computing. Graphene (a single layer of graphite) has been doing remarkable things for a few years. Physicists have demonstrated the quantum hall effect in graphene and at room temperature for chrissakes! It can switch from a metal-like conductor¬† to an insulator in the presence of a magnetic field and it is home to a new breed of amazing phantom stuff called 2D Dirac particles that physicists are drooling to get hold of.

So ya can imagine how it could be put to good use to make a new breed of nanodevice. In fact, many commentators expect graphene to play an important role in the new science of spintronics.

Trouble is that graphene ain’t the easiest material to handle. It’s edges are highly reactive and bond to anything within reach and it tends to curl up like paper in fire.

But now Pablo Esquinazi at the University of Leipzig in Germany and a his buddy Yakov say that anything graphene can do, graphite can do better. What they mean is graphite only a few layers thick but this stuff is much easier to make and handle than single layer graphene.

And their conclusion?

“Based on experimental observations, we anticipate that thin graphite samples and not single layers will be the most promising candidates for graphene-based electronics.”

Looks like the area round Palo Alto is gonna need a name change.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0712.4020: Graphene Physics in Graphite

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