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Graphene gains nearly perfect liquid status

Scientists have found the electrons in a layer of carbon atoms can become a strongly interacting swirling soup

Some things always hold true — the amount of time it takes to find your keys, for example, depends on how late you are. Similarly, the rate that electrons collide in a given material is closely linked to its temperature. But graphene — a sheet of carbon that’s only one atom thick — doesn’t conform to such rules. Over a wide temperature range, graphene’s electrons should become a strongly interacting swirling soup, scientists report online July 6 in Physical Review Letters.

That finding suggests that graphene’s electrons are behaving like a nearly perfect liquid — highly turbulent with extremely low viscosity. Such properties emerge as graphene approaches the “quantum critical point,” a phase transition that breaks the rules of ordinary physics. While a block of ice melts into water only within a narrow temperature range, the transition to a perfect liquid is believed to happen at a wide range of temperatures above this quantum critical point.

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