In some high-quality materials, like graphene, electrons can travel micron distances without scattering, improving the conductivity by orders of magnitude. This so-called ballistic regime, imposes the maximum possible conductance for any normal metal, which is defined by the Landauer-Buttiker formalism. Three different experiments, including one performed by The University of Manchester, demonstrated that at certain temperatures, electrons collide with each other so frequently they start to flow collectively like a viscous fluid. N w research demonstrates that this viscous fluid is even more conductive than ballistic electrons. The result is rather counter-intuitive, since typically scattering events act to lower the conductivity of a material, because they inhibit movement within the crystal. However, when electrons collide with each other, they start working together and ease current flow.
This happens because some electrons remain near the crystal edges, where momentum dissipation is highest, and move rather slowly. At the same time, they protect neighboring electrons from colliding with those regions. Consequently, some electrons become super-ballistic as they are guided through the channel by their friends.
Disorder induced by electron scattering actually reduces rather than increase resistance. This is unique and quite counterintuitive: Electrons when make up a liquid start propagating faster than if they were free, like in vacuum”.
The researchers measured the resistance of graphene constrictions, and found it decreases upon increasing temperature, in contrast to the usual metallic behavior expected for doped graphene.
By studying how the resistance across the constrictions changes with temperature, the scientists revealed a new physical quantity which they called the viscous conductance. The measurements allowed them to determine electron viscosity to such a high precision that the extracted values showed remarkable quantitative agreement with theory.
Electron–electron (e–e) collisions can impact transport in a variety of surprising and sometimes counterintuitive ways. Despite strong interest, experiments on the subject proved challenging because of the simultaneous presence of different scattering mechanisms that suppress or obscure consequences of e–e scattering. Only recently, sufficiently clean electron systems with transport dominated by e–e collisions have become available, showing behaviour characteristic of highly viscous fluids. Here we study electron transport through graphene constrictions and show that their conductance below 150 K increases with increasing temperature, in stark contrast to the metallic character of doped graphene. Notably, the measured conductance exceeds the maximum conductance possible for free electrons. This anomalous behaviour is attributed to collective movement of interacting electrons, which ‘shields’ individual carriers from momentum loss at sample boundaries. The measurements allow us to identify the conductance contribution arising due to electron viscosity and determine its temperature dependence. Besides fundamental interest, our work shows that viscous effects can facilitate high-mobility transport at elevated temperatures, a potentially useful behavior for designing graphene-based devices.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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