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Leiden physicists and chemists have managed to bring two graphene layers so close together that an electric current spontaneously jumps across. In the future, this could enable scientists to study the edges of graphene and use them for sequencing DNA with a precision beyond existing technologies. The study is published in Nano Letters.
How do you study an object that is so small it won't even reflect light? In this case, physicists like to send a current through to measure its conductance, which reveals many properties. For extremely small objects such as a molecules, this is easier said than done. Researchers would need electrodes smaller than the molecule. Leiden research teams of physicist Jan van Ruitenbeek and chemist Grégory F. Schneider devised a way to dodge this problem. They tilted two one-atom-thick sheets of graphene such that they only met at one point, where electrons jumped across from one layer to the other.
Attempts - Electrodes - Layers - Nature - Scientists
Previous attempts with graphene electrodes failed because the layers are floppy by nature. The Leiden scientists deposited them on a silicon substrate, making them rigid all the way to the edge. They brought both layers close enough together that tunneling occurred—a quantum mechanical phenomenon in which electrons spontaneously jump to a neighboring material, even though...
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