This proposal is based on the PI’s recent work in which a conceptually new class of materials – two dimensional atomic crystals – was discovered. Such crystals can be seen as individual atomic planes “pulled out” of bulk crystals and were previously presumed not to exist in the free state. Despite being only one atom thick and unprotected from the immediate environment, these materials can be extremely stable. The PI’s work has focused on graphene, a freestanding monolayer of graphite where carbon atoms are densely packed in a honeycomb lattice. Due to its high quality and unique electronic spectrum (electrons in graphene mimic relativistic quantum particles called Dirac fermions), graphene has become a gold mine for searching for new phenomena. Graphene also offers numerous applications from smart materials to future electronics. The general objective of the proposal is to exploit the PI’s current lead in the emerging research area, so that no opportunity is missed to find new effects that are expected to be abundant in graphene, and to exploit possible applications. The project will cover three main directions, exploring most exciting features about graphene. First, the PI is planning to concentrate on graphene membranes and investigate properties induced by the unique dimensionality of these one atom thick objects. Second, charge carriers in graphene mimic massless relativistic particles, and this exceptional property allows access to the rich and subtle physics of quantum electrodynamics in a bench-top condensed matter experiment. To this end, interaction and many-body effects will be investigated. Third, graphene is considered to be a realistic candidate for electronics beyond the Si age, and one of the priorities of this project will be studies of graphene-based transistor applications. All these research directions combined should create a solid basis for a new internationally-leading research laboratory led by the PI.
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