January 19, 2016

Watching Electrons Cool in 30 Quadrillionths of a Second

In less than 30 femtosecond (30 quadrillionths of a second), high energy hot electrons
in graphene bounce off one another as they cool and spread apart. A recently
developed technique allows researchers to access and control this cooling process.

(January 19, 2016)  Technique developed by researchers could have applications in visual displays, solar cells and photodetectors

Two University of California, Riverside assistant professors of physics are among a team of researchers that have developed a new way of seeing electrons cool off in an extremely short time period.

The development could have applications in numerous places where heat management is important, including visual displays, next-generation solar cells and photodetectors for optical communications.

An illustration showing single layers of graphene with thin layers of insulating
boron nitride that form a sandwich structure.

In visual displays, such as those used in cell phones and computer monitors, and photodetectors, which have a wide variety of applications including solar energy harvesting and fiber optic telecommunications, much of the energy of the electrons is wasted by heating the material. Controlling the flow of heat in the electrons, rather than wasting this energy by heating the material, could potentially increase the efficiency of such devices by converting excess energy into useful power.

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