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Scientists Just Made a Lightbulb Thatís One Atom Thick
Daily Beast ^ | 06.19.15 | G. Clay Whittaker

Posted on 06/19/2015 6:56:50 AM PDT by Second Amendment First

By creating a filament that glows bright enough to be seen by the naked eye, a team at Columbia may have finally found a use for graphene—and it could change the future of computers.

It’s a finding that may change the way computers function in the coming decade.

Scientists at Columbia University have created a graphene filament that glows bright enough to be visible to the naked eye. It’s a massive step in finding a practical use for the material, which could make its way into microchips, displays, lightbulbs, and optical networks with everyday application.

James Hone, who leads the research group and has been working with graphene for eight years, says the breakthrough makes perfect sense. “To me, it’s just one of those things that makes complete sense after you see it, but you never would have thought about it ahead of time,” he said. “And that’s always a fun part of science.”

It’s an experience a lot of scientists have been hoping to have. Part of the problem in the decade since graphene was discovered has been finding a use. The latticework, two-dimensional structures are super strong, conductive, and cheap to make, but practical applications have been scarce and, so far, impractical. Young Duck Kim (L), James Hone (R)Courtesy of Columbia University

But Columbia University’s Hone Group may have crossed that divide with its study, which began with South Korean partners. “The basic idea was to study the properties of this free suspended graphene and how hot you could get it,” said Hone, “and how heat would move through it. And the light emission was a bit fortuitous, at least at first.”

Hone gives credit for the initial research to the Koreans. “The first author, [Young Duck Kim], is a current postdoc with us,” he said. “Most of the work was done in Korea, so they came up with the original idea.”

Now that they’ve found the light-emitting properties, Hone says graphene could find its way into both lightbulb and computer chip markets in the future. In hindsight, he says, the similarities between graphene and tungsten, which is also used in lightbulbs, are obvious.

“The reason both are used is because they survive very, very high temperatures,” he said. “There are only a few metals that survive up to such high temperatures, and tungsten was one of them. However, carbon is another. Carbon was actually used in Edison’s first lightbulbs. And graphene is just a very pure crystalline form of carbon.”

But where tungsten falls short, graphene is a perfect solution: the small scale. “To me the interesting thing is that tungsten does not work in micro scale,” said Hone. “You just can’t get it hot enough.”

But graphene has proved it can get hot enough on a scale so small that it can fit on top of or adjacent to a silicon chip: “To have something that is only a couple micrometers on the side and an atom thick, and you can actually see the light with the naked eye at all, is pretty amazing,” he said.

“You can use it to generate light, you can use it to detect light…it’s kind of the material that can do everything.”

Hone doesn’t think graphene will replace silicon but says the partnership between the two materials will be helpful in the future. “[Replacement] was some of the hope originally with graphene. But I think after 10 years of the basic physics of graphene, it’s shown that that’s really not going to happen. It’s going to be more complimentary to silicon.”

The scaled-up operation of the Columbia team’s findings, he says, could lead to breakthroughs in on-chip optical communication. “Right now we send communication over long distances through optical fibers,” he said. “Most of the Internet is sort of fiber optics, but within a chip all of the information is still electrical.”

So there’s kind of a worldwide push, Hone says, of “can we take that same fiber optic network, and have it route information around a computer chip also? And if you can do that, you can do things a lot faster for a lot less power, and you can much more easily have chips talk to the fibers.”

“One of the interesting things about graphene is it’s transparent, and it’s very bendable and flexible,” he said. If his team can scale up, graphene could also be used, Hone says, as “a screen, maybe in micro devices rather than in a larger scale.”

Either way, the findings mean more development is needed. But for Hone and his team, prospecting for value just got a little easier: “You can use it to generate light, you can use it to detect light…it’s kind of the material that can do everything.”


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: nanotechnology
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My son has been doing similar research for several years doping gallium to grow nanowires, then creating tools to manipulate them. The result is paired nanowires, one tipped with a LED and the other with a receptor, in a variety of wave lengths. A huge step forward in sizing optic fibers.
1 posted on 06/19/2015 6:56:50 AM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Second Amendment First; rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; JosephW; Only1choice____Freedom; amigatec; ...

2 posted on 06/19/2015 6:58:12 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: Second Amendment First

Problem is, the switch is too small to find. I haven’t slept properly for weeks and my electric bill is insane.


3 posted on 06/19/2015 7:01:48 AM PDT by edpc (Wilby 2016)
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To: edpc

LOL!


4 posted on 06/19/2015 7:02:49 AM PDT by RushIsMyTeddyBear (The White House is now known as "Casa Blanca".)
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To: Second Amendment First

One of these days they’ll come up with a commercial use for graphene. So far it’s only been a windfall for researchers.


5 posted on 06/19/2015 7:05:36 AM PDT by Moonman62 (The US has become a government with a country, rather than a country with a government.)
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To: ShadowAce

But how many physicists does it take to screw it in?


6 posted on 06/19/2015 7:05:44 AM PDT by circlecity
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To: circlecity

Need more info ...

Are the physicists Polish ?


7 posted on 06/19/2015 7:06:36 AM PDT by George from New England (escaped CT in 2006, now living north of Tampa)
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To: George from New England

Really? A Polish Physicist? Come on, you are better than that.


8 posted on 06/19/2015 7:10:05 AM PDT by MPJackal ("From my cold dead hands.")
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To: Second Amendment First
If graphene responds to heat even better than tungsten, doesn't that imply that you could use it to make longer-lasting, more efficient, incandescent light bulbs?

Anyone know what the color spectrum is like?

9 posted on 06/19/2015 7:11:45 AM PDT by SamuraiScot
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To: George from New England

Young Duck Kim.


10 posted on 06/19/2015 7:12:38 AM PDT by aquila48
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To: SamuraiScot
Anyone know what the color spectrum is like?

It's really bright at one end, but radically tapers off from there...

11 posted on 06/19/2015 7:14:58 AM PDT by rjsimmon (The Tree of Liberty Thirsts)
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To: Moonman62

Understanding the atom and electron, nuclear physics, uranium isotope separation, tansistors, lasers, ICs, optical fibers, gigahertz switching speeds...all took a long time from fundamental research to first market at particles to wide-scale use. It doesn’t happen overnight. Yet all these occurred within one lifetime.


12 posted on 06/19/2015 7:16:01 AM PDT by ProtectOurFreedom (For those who understand, no explanation is needed. For those who do not, no explanation is possible)
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To: ShadowAce; edpc

13 posted on 06/19/2015 7:27:00 AM PDT by Red Badger (Man builds a ship in a bottle. God builds a universe in the palm of His hand.............)
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To: Second Amendment First
I've been wondering... what happens if you heat a nanoparticle - that is a solid particle made up of atoms that is much smaller than a wavelength of visible light - to a temperature high enough to cause a black body to radiate in the visible or infrared wavelength range.

In other words, what happens if a particle of matter is heated up enough to radiate light, but the particle much smaller than the wavelength of the light it is trying to emit. Does it still emit? If so, how? Does it "bottle up" heat inside itself until its temperature gets high enough to emit at a wavelength compatible with its size? For some nanoparticles, such a temperature would vaporize them or even ionize them.

Can a point source be a tiny fraction of one wavelength in its longest dimension?

14 posted on 06/19/2015 7:27:22 AM PDT by Steely Tom (Vote GOP: A Slower Handbasket)
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To: George from New England

Young Duck Kimsky....................


15 posted on 06/19/2015 7:27:59 AM PDT by Red Badger (Man builds a ship in a bottle. God builds a universe in the palm of His hand.............)
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To: Steely Tom

I certainly can’t answer your question. Way over my head.


16 posted on 06/19/2015 7:33:46 AM PDT by Second Amendment First
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To: Steely Tom

“In other words, what happens if a particle of matter is heated up enough to radiate light, but the particle much smaller than the wavelength of the light it is trying to emit. Does it still emit? If so, how?”

Yes, it still emits. I think what is tripping you up is thinking that it needs to emit the whole wavelength. It doesn’t. It just needs to emit a single photon, which is practically 2 dimensional. The photon is what oscillates over the wavelength, after it is emitted.


17 posted on 06/19/2015 7:35:44 AM PDT by Boogieman
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To: rjsimmon
Anyone know what the color spectrum is like?

It's really bright at one end, but radically tapers off from there...

I knew I could count on you!

18 posted on 06/19/2015 8:02:20 AM PDT by SamuraiScot
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To: MPJackal

Why would anyone want to polish a physicist anyway?


19 posted on 06/19/2015 8:31:13 AM PDT by erkelly
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To: Second Amendment First

“By creating a filament that glows bright enough to be seen by the naked eye...”

A candle wick glows bright enough to be seen by the naked eye.


20 posted on 06/19/2015 8:34:40 AM PDT by WKUHilltopper (And yet...we continue to tolerate this crap...)
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