There is a discovery that is causing a lot of talk in the world of science. Which? A group of physicists at the University of Arkansas has developed circuits capable of capturing the thermal motion of graphene and transforming it into electric current. The professor Paul Thibado, who leads the research team, says such circuits could be integrated into a chip to power small devices or sensors with unlimited, clean energy.
The research, published in the journal Physical Review E (I link it to you here), confirms the validity of a theory developed three years ago. In 2020, physicists at the University of Arkansas theorized that graphene (a layer of carbon atoms) harbors dynamics that can be exploited to produce energy. And it was something almost blasphemous.
A controversial idea
The idea of extracting energy from graphene is rather controversial, because it goes against the affirmation of the famous physicist Richard Feynman, according to which the thermal motion of atoms, known as Brownian motion, cannot do work.
However, Thibado's team found that, at room temperature, the thermal motion of graphene actually induces an alternating current (AC) in the circuits. It is an achievement that was simply thought impossible.
How do these circuits that "defy" the laws of physics work?
To build these circuits, the researchers used two diodes that convert alternating current into direct current (DC). These diodes, arranged to allow current to flow in both directions, provide separate paths in a circuit, generating a pulsating DC current that acts on a load resistance. Furthermore, the research team discovered that the on-off behavior of the diodes amplifies the power output, rather than reducing it.
The next step for the research team will be to understand whether the DC current produced can be stored in a capacitor for later use. If millions of these tiny circuits could be made on a 1-millimeter by 1-millimeter chip, they could replace low-power batteries.
The spark of a revolution
What if one day our smartphones no longer need batteries? Thanks to research into the infinite energy from graphene, we could be one step closer to a future where electronic devices are powered more sustainably and intelligently. It's still early to tell, but this discovery could be the spark that ignites a revolutionary fire in the world of energy.