New research has delved into graphene’s rippling, discovering a physical phenomenon on an atomic scale that could be exploited as a way to produce a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
It turns out the ‘loophole’ was the random jiggling of atoms popping back and forth, giving the 2D sheet of graphene a handy third dimension. In other words, graphene was possible because it wasn’t perfectly flat at all, but vibrated on an atomic level in such a way that its bonds didn’t spontaneously unravel. They laid sheets of graphene across a supportive copper grid and observed the changes in the atoms’ positions using a scanning tunneling microscope. The team quickly found the sheets of graphene were buckling in way not unlike the snapping back and forth of a bent piece of thin metal as it’s twisted from the sides. Place electrodes to either side of sections of this buckling graphene, and you’d have a tiny shifting voltage.
For an impossible molecule, graphene has become something of a wonder material that has turned physics on its head. It’s already being touted as a building block for future conductors.