Graphene: Particle Physics in Pencil Lead

Professor Erik Henriksen, Department of Physics, Washington University
January 25, 2017 at 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Kirkwood Station Brewing
Event Description 

Close encounters of the 2-dimensional kind! "Relativistic physics" typically conjures images of giant particle colliders or lessons on the twin paradox and the slower ticking of fast-moving clocks. Less likely to spring to mind are microscopic flakes of graphite, yet, such is the case for the physics of graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms. In this remarkable two-dimensional material, electrons fly from atom to atom as if they had no mass, acting for all the world like ultra-relativistic particles despite having an actual velocity just 1/300th the speed of light. Indeed, physicists have used this quasi-relativistic system to investigate long-standing theoretical predictions of relativity, that have eluded experimental confirmation for nearly a century. And this only scratches the surface! Among many other novel and useful attributes, graphene is the strongest known material, can conduct orders of magnitude more electrical current than any metal, makes flexible electronics a reality, supports levitation, and—as we will demonstrate—can be made using nothing more than scotch tape and pencil lead.

Kirkwood Station Restaurant & Brewing Company
105 E. Jefferson Ave.
Kirkwood, MO 63122