Researchers says that electrons which break the rules and move perpendicular to the applied electric field could be the key to delivering next generation, low-energy computers.
Researchers from the University of Manchester and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have described a material in which electrons move at a controllable angle to applied fields, similar to sailboats driven diagonally to the wind.
Graphene, a material which is one atom-thick chicken wire made from carbon, but with a difference. When it placed on top of boron nitride, it is transformed to a new state called superlattice state. Boron nitride is also known as 'white graphite'.
After the change it is aligning the crystal lattices of the two materials. Instead of metallic graphene, a graphene superlattice behaves as a semiconductor.
In original graphene, charge carriers behave like massless neutrinos moving at the speed of light and having the electron charge. Moreover, it is an excellent conductor but does not allow for easy switching on and off of current, which is at the heart of what a transistor does.
Meanwhile, electrons in graphene superlattices are different and behave as neutrinos that acquired a notable mass. So the result is the relativistic behavior, so that electrons can now skew at large angles to applied fields and the effect is huge.
Researchers said that the observed phenomenon may also help enhance the performance of graphene electronics, making it a worthy companion to silicon.
According to the working experiment, the benefits of the transistors made from graphene superlattices should consume less energy than conventional semiconductor transistors because charge carriers drift perpendicular to the electric field, which results in little energy dissipation.