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Graphene’s allure becomes magnetic

Thin carbon sheets can borrow valuable property from nearby compound

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6:15pm, January 12, 2015
graphene lattice, illustration

MAGNETIC CARBON  Researchers magnetized a sheet of graphene without disturbing its well-structured array of carbon atoms (illustrated above).

Although atom-thick sheets of carbon called graphene have many extraordinary properties, magnetism isn’t one of them. But a new study reveals that graphene can simply borrow the magnetic properties of a nearby material.

The technique, reported in the Jan. 9 Physical Review Letters, creates a magnetic form of graphene by precisely placing it above a magnetic, insulating compound. It’s the first time researchers have magnetized graphene while also preserving the ultrathin material’s other tantalizing properties, particularly the super speed of electrons coursing through it.

Graphene, which was discovered in 2004, is mostly valued for its promise in electronics. Its electrons move much faster than those in semiconductors such as silicon. But graphene does not exhibit magnetism, which would be useful for certain technological applications.

Scientists have proposed inducing

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