Graphene is one of the strangest substances on Earth. It is stronger than steel, featuring high conductivity, with thickness of one atom, and transparent in single sheets. Featuring this, scientists continue to explore the bundled curious properties of graphene. For example, graphene is both a very good conductor and an insulator. To leverage this, scientists at ETH, Zurich are exploring these properties.
Earlier, 2018, scientists at MIT demonstrated that placing one flake of graphene one on top of another turned precisely by 1.06 degrees, and can be turned into an insulator. On application of specific voltage, the same flakes turn into superconductors. This extremely strange property of graphene makes it a serious candidate for electronics. Meanwhile, scientists in Switzerland show that two separate flakes are not required for this effect.
Interestingly, researchers have shown that the same switching of insular/superconductor can be created by bending sheets of paper very precisely. This implies parts of the same graphene chip can be superconductors, while other parts of the same flake can be insulators. Called Josephson junction, this effect was attained by applying different voltages to different areas of the flake until it is folded in a very special manner. Importantly, it is possible to create zones of superconductivity that are separated by a thin strip of insulator. The thinness of the insulator is limited by quantum tunneling effect, which itself is a big question in chips manufacturing. However, scientists believe this invention could be tremendously useful.
In fact, Josephson junction could have valuable applications in quantum technologies. For example, superconducting quantum interference devices is on the cards, where Josephson junction would form a ring.