Materials thin as an atom

29. 05. 2015

Once again, the Slovak Centre of Scientific and Technical Information (SCSTI) held another meeting of the public with personality of science and technology with the cup of coffee, which is organized monthly by the National Centre for the Popularization of Science and Technology in Society within SCSTI.

prof. RNDr. Jaroslav Fabián, PhD.The guest of the Science Café - Science in the CENTRE on 28 May 2015 at 17.00 was prof. RNDr. Jaroslav Fabián, PhD., successful Slovak scientist and quantum physicist, from the Institute of Theoretical Physics at the University of Regensburg in Germany.

In the beginning of his presentation on Materials thin as an atom (or how has a gummed tape caused revolution in physics), Prof. Fabián talked about the history of graphite, also called black lead, plumbago. First rich deposit was discovered in 1564 in Borrowdale, England.

He introduced a whole range of two-dimensional materials and explained how they have been discovered by physics. This pertains to metals, semiconductors and superconductors, among which is unique graphene. Graphene is a two-dimensional, atomically thin structure of carbon atoms arranged into a hexagonal lattice. This structure has unique electrical, mechanical optical and spin properties.

Graphene is the thinnest and simultaneously the strongest known material with excellent conductive properties. Electrons move inside of it with the speed of light. Graphene is also transparent and therefore ideal for the manufacture of touch screens, light panels and photovoltaic cells. When mixed with plastics, the latter becomes conductor with increased mechanical strength and heat resistance. The discovery of graphene can be the start of development of super rigid, lightweight and thin materials.

prof. RNDr. Jaroslav Fabián, PhD.In 2004, professor of Russian origin Andre Geim, researcher at the University of Manchester and his colleague Konstantin Novoselov developed a method of obtaining monoatomic layers of graphene by their detachment from graphite and subsequent stabilization on the surface of silicon coated with a layer of silicon dioxide. He [Geim] received the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of this method as well as the study of the properties of graphene.

Two-dimensional semiconductors have the greatest potential for electronics. In the future, they could replace silicon as the material of the information age thus create a basis for a new two-dimensional electronics with atomically thin diodes, transistors and integrated circuits.

Prof. Fabián also mentioned the research he is working on together with his team. They examine spin properties of electrons in real materials such as graphene. Among other things, he explained that the electron spin gives electrons their identity. Spinotronics examines the properties of spins in materials as well as how to use these properties in electronics.

Successful Slovak physicist working abroad for many years as well as the topic he presented attracted number of visitors to the Science Café. Their interest was reflected not only in the debate, but also in individual discussions with prof. Fabián after the lecture. The event was moderated by PhDr. Zuzana Hajdu.

 Veda v CENTRE_28-05-2015

Compiled: PhDr. Marta Bartošovičová

Photo: Ing. Alena Oravcová
Photo gallery from the event on the portal of the  NCP S&T

SCSTI, , Popularization of Science and Technology , personalities of science

Natural sciences

J. Fabián: The centre of my research are spin properties of electrons in real materials