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Graphene May Provide Clean, Limitless Energy

Monday, December 4, 2017 0:09
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The research of Paul Thibado, professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, provides strong evidence that the motion of two-dimensional materials could be used as a source of clean, limitless energy. Thibado and his students studied the movements of graphene, which is composed of a single layer of carbon.

Brownian motion is the small random fluctuations of the carbon atoms that make up graphene. This causes the material to ripple into the third dimension from its two dimensional state, similar to waves moving across the surface of the ocean. These movements in and out of the flat surface allow graphene to stay comfortably within the laws of physics.

Ever since Robert Brown discovered Brownian motion in 1827, scientists have wondered whether they could harvest this motion as a source of energy. The research of Paul Thibado, professor of physics at the University of Arkansas, provides strong evidence that the motion of graphene could indeed be used as a source of clean, limitless energy

Physics professor Paul Thibado has designed tiny graphene-powered motors that can run on ambient temperature.
Physics professor Paul Thibado has designed tiny graphene-powered motors that can run on ambient temperature.
Thibado has taken the first steps toward creating a device that can turn this movement into electricity, with the potential for many applications. He recently applied for a patent on this invention, called a Vibration Energy Harvester, or VEH.

Credit: University of Arkansas
Thibado predicts that his generators could transform our environment, allowing any object to send, receive, process and store information, powered only by room temperature heat.

This would have significant implications for the effort to connect physical objects to the digital world, known as the Internet of Things. This self-charging, microscopic power source could make everyday objects into smart devices, as well as powering more sophisticated biomedical devices such as pace-makers, hearing aids and wearable sensors.

Graphene is an allotrope (form) of carbon consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in an hexagonal lattice. It is the basic structural element of many other allotropes of carbon, such as graphite, charcoal, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes.

Graphene has many unusual properties. It is the strongest material ever tested, efficiently conducts heat and electricity and is nearly transparent. Graphene shows a large and nonlinear diamagnetism, which is greater than that of graphite, and can be levitated by neodymium magnets.

When Thibado’s team analyzed the “point mode” data, they could observe two distinct features: small Brownian motion and larger, coordinated movements. In these larger movements, the entire ripple buckled, flipping up and down like a thin piece of metal being repeatedly flexed.

The pattern of small random motion combined with larger sudden movements is known as Lévy flights. This phenomenon can be observed in a variety of contexts, such as biomedical signals, climate dynamics, the behavior of foraging animals, and even the movement of crowds at Disney World. Thibado is the first to have observed these flights spontaneously occurring in an inorganic atomic-scale system. His team published these results in the journal Physical Review Letters.
Read more about this research on the Research Frontier website.

Model of graphene structure:  Graphene is an atomic-scale hexagonal lattice made of carbon atoms.


Credit: AlexanderAlUS /Wikimedia Commons

Thibado predicts that his generators could transform our environment, allowing any object to send, receive, process, and store information, powered only by room temperature heat. This would have significant implications for the effort to connect physical objects to the digital world, known as the Internet of Things. This self-charging, microscopic power source could make everyday objects into smart devices, as well as powering more sophisticated biomedical devices such as pace-makers, hearing aids, and wearable sensors.

“Self-powering enables smart bio-implants,” explained Thibado, “which would profoundly impact society.”

Read more about this research on the Research Frontier website.

Contacts and sources:
Camilla Shumaker

University of Arkansas



Source: http://www.ineffableisland.com/2017/12/graphene-may-provide-clean-limitless.html

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