Washington, October 5 (ANI): Researchers of Eindhoven University of Technology and the Radboud University Nijmegen in The Netherlands have shown that ordinary graphite is a permanent magnet at room temperature because it can mimic iron's magnetism.
Graphite is a well-known lubricant and forms the basis for pencils. It is a layered compound with a weak interlayer interaction between the individual carbon (graphene) sheets. Hence, this makes graphite a good lubricant.
It is unexpected that graphite is ferromagnetic.
The researchers Jiri Cervenka and Kees Flipse (Eindhoven University of Technology) and Mikhail Katsnelson (Radboud University Nijmegen) demonstrated direct evidence for ferromagnetic order and explain the underlying mechanism.
In graphite, well-ordered areas of carbon atoms are separated by 2 nanometer wide boundaries of defects.
The electrons in the defect regions behave differently compared to the ordered areas, showing similarities with the electron behaviour of ferromagnetic materials like iron and cobalt.
The researchers found that the grain boundary regions in the individual carbon sheets are magnetically coupled, forming 2-dimensional networks.
This interlayer coupling was found to explain the permanent magnetic behaviour of graphite.
The researchers also show experimental evidence for excluding magnetic impurities to be the origin of ferromagnetism, ending ten years of debate.
The results are promising for new applications in nanotechnology, such as sensors and detectors. In particular, graphite could be a promising candidate for a biosensor material. (ANI)