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graphene

Graphene is an artificial carbon material with extraordinary properties, and it is made of only one layer of atoms.

Not only is graphene the thinnest known material because it is one-atom thick, but it also displays unusual physical properties. It is not entirely a metal, and not entirely an insulator. Its electrons are characterized by what physicists call “Dirac cones”, referring to the relativistic behavior of energies, similar to the behavior of light. Moreover, we can control the number and nature of those electrons thanks to applied electric voltage through a grid. This offers many possibilities for application in electronics at the nanometer level.

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In laboratory

One studies graphene for all its possible applications, but also with a fundamental eye in order to better understand its quantum behaviors. In particular, the Dirac cones, which govern the mechanics of its electrons, make for a very wide research subject and have been spotted in other newly discovered compounds. Research on graphene thus needs fabrication and measuring techniques proper to nanotechnologies and concepts specific to quantum and mesoscopic physics.