Graphene, one-atom-thick form of carbon, was discovered in 2004 and has ever since intrigued scientists for its unique mechanical properties and remarkably fast electron movement. Physicists from the Universities of Helsinki and Manchester have joined forces to study the magnetic properties of graphene.
Graphene. Image: Wikimedia Commons.
The discovered properties of graphene suggest that it is the material of the future in nanotechnology. Despite of it being so thin, it is the strongest and most conductive material known to man.
Light elements, such as carbon, lack magnetic properties, which are typically detected in heavier elements, like iron and nowadays commonly used neodymium. However, theoretical studies have predicted that atom-level defects to graphene can make it magnetic, and induced magnetism could be added to the list of grahene’s properties, which is already impressive.
So far experiments have given little and controversial evidence on whether magnetism could be induced in graphene. The magnetic properties of graphite, another form of carbon consisting of multiple graphene layers, have however been studied more thoroughly and there is no evidence of magnetism.
Accordingly, researchers from the University of Helsinki’s Department of Physics have produced atom-level defects on graphene in the Department’s particle accelerator. These samples, and other patch of samples defected chemically using fluorine were studied at the University of Manchester.
The results suggest that the defects induced magnetic properties, which gives support to the results from theoretical studies. However, ferromagnetism, a basic mechanism by which certain materials form permanent magnets, or are attracted to magnets, did not occur even at the low temperature of liquid helium.
Have a look at the research article in Nature Physics.