(ORDO NEWS) — Physicists from the USA accidentally discovered that graphene can generate energy with the help of the environment and in the near future may become a new word in energy and bionics.
The existence of graphene in nature is a phenomenon that became possible due to the fact that scientists found a “loophole” in the laws of physics and forced a continuous two-dimensional atomic sheet to behave like a three-dimensional material.
More and more research is discovering useful applications for this material, and the predictions sound very encouraging: it turns out that graphene can be used to generate an almost infinite amount of energy! Let’s figure out exactly how they are connected: graphene and energy.
In 2017, a team of physicists led by researchers from the University of Arkansas made a discovery by accident. The original purpose of their testing was to study the vibration of graphene – but for what?
We are all familiar with granular graphite, which is commonly used with ceramic components to create a pencil lead.
The black streak that is left when the pencil lead is drawn across the paper is, in fact, thin sheets of carbon atoms that easily slide over each other. For years, physicists have been wondering if it is possible to isolate such a sheet and make it a two-dimensional plane in its own right?
In 2004, physicists from the University of Manchester succeeded. To exist separately from each other, sheets of carbon atoms need to behave like a three-dimensional material in order to provide the necessary stability.
It turned out that the “loophole” in this case is the displacement of mobile atoms, which gives graphene the properties of the third dimension. In other words, graphene was never 100% flat — it vibrated at the atomic level so that its bonds would not spontaneously break apart.
It was in order to measure the level of this displacement and vibration that the physicist Paul Thibadot recently led a group of graduate students and did a very simple study with them.
The scientists laid sheets of graphene on a special copper net and observed changes in the positions of atoms using a microscope. However, the numbers for some reason did not match the expected model.
Moreover, the data varied from trial to trial. Have you ever thought about the fact that graphene is a source of energy? Although it is used together with components to create a rod. But here’s an amazing fact. Let’s move on to the experiment!
Graphene as an energy source
Thibadot decided to take the experiment in a different direction, trying to find a suitable template and changing the way he analyzed the data to do so. The researchers divided each image taken during the measurement process into sub-images.
The strategy turned out to be correct: a large-scale picture did not allow us to study the laws of motion of atoms, but the analysis of its particulars as a result made it possible to find out something interesting. It was assumed that the sheets of graphene moved in the same way as bent sheets of metal – but this assumption turned out to be false.
It turned out that the whole thing is in the so-called “Levy flights” – patterns of small random fluctuations, combined with sudden, sharp shifts. Similar systems have been observed before in biological and climatic systems, but on an atomic scale, physicists have seen them for the first time. By measuring the speed and scale of these graphene waves, Thibadot suggested that they could be used to extract energy from the environment.
But why is graphene a source of energy? Look, it’s very simple. As long as the temperature of the medium prevents the “comfortable” movement of graphene atoms relative to each other, they will continue to pulsate and bend.
Place electrodes on either side of a section of such graphene and you have a tiny generator. So it turns out that graphene is a source of energy. According to calculations, a 10×10 micron graphene graph has a power of 10 microwatts.
Considering that as many as 20,000 of these squares can fit on a pinhead, such a “power plant” does not look very impressive, right?
However, this power at room temperature will be enough to provide energy for some small gadget – for example, a wrist electronic watch. It is also interesting that in the future such a method of obtaining energy can lead to the creation of bioimplants.
As we understand, graphene and energy are closely related, which can bring technologies a new future, so to speak … Currently, Tibado is already collaborating with scientists from the US Naval Research Laboratory to understand if this strategy has a future.
It is possible that graphene will become the source of the “energy of the future”, which will allow technologies to make a significant breakthrough in the near future.
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