Graphene is a sheet of individual carbon atoms arranged in a chicken-wire-like pattern. It’s weird stuff, an electrically two-dimensional object in that its charge carriers — its electrons — are only capable of moving in two directions. It does have a little trick by which it gets a third dimension, though: Brownian motion, in this case, continuous, tiny, random movements in its atoms that ultimately cause the sheet to ripple upward and downward. Picture waves moving across a body of water. And now, a team of physicists from the University of Arkansas led by Paul Thibado have found it’s possible to capture energy from graphene’s ripples as an endless source of clean energy. Brownian motion was first discovered way back, in 1827, and as a naturally occurring phenomenon, scientists ever since have wondered if there was a way to harness its energy. Leave it to weird graphene to make that possible by doing it on an atomic scale. Thibado and his students were measuring the movement of graphene sheets, laid atop a copper grid for support, through a scanning tunneling microscope (or STM). Read more here…

thumbnail courtesy of bigthink.com