Physicists have used a laser to control an electronic current through graphene within one femtosecond. According to the research team this speed could be more than a thousand times faster than the speed of current transistors.
While it’s possible to use light waves to direct electrons through semiconductors and insulating materials, according to researchers this approach has not yet been used to direct electrons — and thus control currents — through metals, because light cannot penetrate the material to reach the electrons inside.
To move electrons through metal, scientists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) used graphene, a semimetal material that is thin enough to let some light penetrate. They fired extremely short laser pulses with custom engineered waveforms onto graphene. When the light waves hit the graphene, the electrons inside were hurled in one direction, like a whiplash.
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Source: Photonics Media
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