Oct. 2 (UPI) — Scientists have developed a new graphene-based circuit capable of producing clean, limitless power. Researchers suggest the energy-harvesting circuit — described Friday in the journal Physical Review E — could be used to power small, low-voltage devices and sensors.
The circuit’s ability confirms the theory — developed by the study’s authors, a group of physicists at the University of Arkansas — that micron-sized sheets of freestanding graphene naturally move in a way conducive to energy harvesting.
The breakthrough also contradicts the assertion by Richard Feynman that so-called Brownian motion, the thermal motion of atoms, cannot perform work. But lab tests showed the Brownian motion of atoms in freestanding sheets of graphene can generate an alternating current.
Famously, physicist Léon Brillouin proved that a single diode, a one-way electrical gate, added to a circuit was not sufficient to turn Brownian motion into energy. The team of physicists at
A team of University of Arkansas physicists has successfully developed a circuit capable of capturing graphene’s thermal motion and converting it into an electrical current.
“An energy-harvesting circuit based on graphene could be incorporated into a chip to provide clean, limitless, low-voltage power for small devices or sensors,” said Paul Thibado, professor of physics and lead researcher in the discovery.
The findings, published in the journal Physical Review E, are proof of a theory the physicists developed at the U of A three years ago that freestanding graphene—a single layer of carbon atoms—ripples and buckles in a way that holds promise for energy harvesting.
The idea of harvesting energy from graphene is controversial because it refutes physicist Richard Feynman’s well-known assertion that the thermal motion of atoms, known as Brownian motion, cannot do work. Thibado’s team found that at room temperature the thermal motion of
Transistors based on carbon rather than silicon could potentially boost computers’ speed and cut their power consumption more than a thousandfold — think of a mobile phone that holds its charge for months — but the set of tools needed to build working carbon circuits has remained incomplete until now.
A team of chemists and physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, has finally created the last tool in the toolbox, a metallic wire made entirely of carbon, setting the stage for a ramp-up in research to build carbon-based transistors and, ultimately, computers.
“Staying within the same material, within the realm of carbon-based materials, is what brings this technology together now,” said Felix Fischer, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry, noting that the ability to make all circuit elements from the same material makes fabrication easier. “That has been one of the key things that has been missing in the big