Interaction of the terahertz field with graphene leads to efficient electron heating, which in turn strongly changes graphene conductivity. Credit: © Zoltan Mics / MPIP
A team of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) discovered that electrical conduction in graphene on the picosecond timescale - a picosecond being one thousandth of one billionth of a second - is governed by the same basic laws that describe the thermal properties of gases. This much simpler thermodynamic approach to the electrical conduction in graphene will allow scientists and engineers not only to better understand but also to improve the performance of graphene-based nanoelectronic devices.
The researchers found that the energy of ultrafast electrical currents passing through graphene is very efficiently converted into electron heat, making graphene electrons behave just like a hot gas. "The heat is distributed evenly over all electrons. And the rise in electronic temperature, caused by the passing currents, in turn has a strong effect on the electrical conduction of graphene" explains Professor Mischa Bonn, Director at the MPI-P. The study, entitled "Thermodynamic picture of ultrafast charge transport in graphene", has recently been published in Nature Communications.