back to article Graphene is actually self-folding origami, proclaim physicists

Physicists have observed a new behaviour in graphene sheets that causes them to spontaneously grow, tear and peel like self-folding origami. Carbon is a versatile element and can form many types of bonds with different elements – including itself. Diamond, bucky-balls and graphene are all allotropes of carbon – they are all …

  1. hplasm
    Happy

    I've seen that picture before-

    In the Andromeda Strain.

    We are all going to die!

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: I've seen that picture before-

      I was thinking the same thing!

    2. Peter X

      Re: I've seen that picture before-

      That'll be why they didn't zoom in enough to see the green blobs!!

    3. Howard Hanek
      Happy

      Re: I've seen that picture before-

      Not if we change the pH.....

  2. Alister Silver badge

    Graphene was discovered in 2004 and was hailed as a “miracle material” in the news.

    Unfortunately, no-one has discovered why, yet.

    1. jonathan1

      Hmm...

      Google says otherwise...

      http://www.graphene.manchester.ac.uk/explore/what-can-graphene-do/

      LIke all things it takes a while for it to trickly down into daily life.

    2. Measurer
      Joke

      'Cross said he would like to study this behaviour further to see if he could make a 2nd round of funding.'

      there, fixed for u.

  3. dajames Silver badge
    Boffin

    Under the microscope, graphene looks like chicken wire.

    That's a mighty powerful microscope you have there!

    What is that? 180 million times* magnification? Rather better than any electron microscope, or even a field ion or field emission device.

    * Based on 0.142nm bond length in Graphene, and about an inch of wire forming the edge of each "hole" in the chicken wire; and assuming that the Graphene is under the microscope and the chcicken wire is not.

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Under the microscope, graphene looks like chicken wire.

      Perhaps it's a scanning tunneling microscope...

    2. Spudley

      Under a microsocpe?!

      Yeah, I'm kinda sad that a source as reputable as El Reg would claim that graphene looks like chicken wire under a microscope -- especially as only a few paragraphs further down, we do actually get a microscope picture of the stuff and it absolutely does not look like chicken wire.

      The bond diagram of the atomic structure may resemble chicken wire. But under a microscope, not so much.

  4. DNTP

    "graphene would rather be in contact with itself"

    With that quote, the state of Utah ruled that graphene is now a public moral health hazard.

    "The... flaps oscillate at high frequencies"

    Not helping!

  5. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    It folds back, but...

    Where are these shapes? Does it fold like a protein folds? If so, or if it could be induced to do so, could this be useful in medicine?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: It folds back, but...

      If it folds like a protein folds, then I'd guess the contaminants are going to be hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus...

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: It folds back, but...

        If it folds like a protein folds, then I'd guess the contaminants are going to be hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulphur and phosphorus...

        Oh noes! Contaminated pollution! (As any fule no carbon is pollution because humans...)

  6. Chemist

    "The researchers believe that the behaviour boils down to the laws of thermodynamics"

    Really !

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Chemist

        "As it applies equally to a collision between two photons"

        I'm not sure it actually does - this might seem like heresy - thermodynamics does deal with bulk properties - averaged over a reasonable number of pairs of photons it will surely be true but just 1 pair? I'm desperately trying to remember my statistical thermodynamics lectures from nearly fifty years ago* (which I had a lot of trouble with then). In a gas at a fixed temperature there will be a distribution of particle velocities. The gas will have a 'temperature' but any atom/molecule will have it's own (and changing) velocity.

        *I would welcome views

        1. Katie Saucey

          RE: I would welcome views

          "The gas will have a 'temperature' but any atom/molecule will have it's own (and changing) velocity"

          I'm pretty sure that is the gist of it, if I remember correctly one could talk about a temperature for a large molecule, in effect relating the sum of all it's vibrational modes to the equilibrium state of the ambient environment, although I have no clue where or if that comes in handy anywhere. This stuff was 20 years ago for me, and the only thing fresh in my mind is the traumatizing brain tangles and PTLSD (post thermodynamic lectures stress disorder).

      2. Roj Blake

        If you perform a statistical analysis of the behaviour of a large collection of quantum particles, then you end up the laws of thermodynamics, which at first glance would imply that it's not very fundamental.

        However, the Second Law of Thermodynamics is about a fundamental as it gets and you can't really reduce entropy to anything else..

  7. Leeroy

    Crackers

    Does anyone else remember the little plastic film fish you used to get in cheap christmas crackers ?

    I'm betting bendy fishes v2.0 is going to cost quite a bit more and you will only get them in M&S crackers.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Crackers

      I was thinking exactly the same thing.

      (You still get them in crackers)

  8. Alistair
    Windows

    @ voyna

    Personally I rather like Penrose, if only because I find his language 'translates' well to my comprehension. I can still find bits of his stuff that I find less .... "credible" .... if you will, but his tendency to throw thermodynamics out at the subatomic equation level seems to make sense ..... in the context of examining individual events. What with LHC *testing* a crapton of events at a time, and making so MANY more events to analyse, thermodynamics comes back into focus.

    Still, considering my uncle is a Penrose student, my take on physics is somewhat biased.

  9. Finnish Anonymous Coward

    Just a note

    That thing in the picture looks quite a lot like the symbol for an old-fashioned transistor. Ok, base has been shifted from left to right, and there's no circle around the formation.

  10. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Origami, the art of paper folding

    "Physicists have observed a new behaviour in graphene sheets that causes them to spontaneously grow, tear and peel like self-folding origami."

    Growing, tearing and peeling are not functions in origami. Origami is folding and none of those are folding.

  11. Bob Rocket

    tear characteristics

    'a diamond tip was used to puncture the ribbons'

    Are the tear dimensions directly proportional to the dimensions of the puncture and what tear shape is produced if you deform only one molecule ?

    (disclaimer: as you can tell, I know nothing about this subject)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: tear characteristics

      The entire graphene sheet is one molecule (otherwise it would not be graphene)... so I guess the article answers your question about what happens.

      Perhapse you meant what happens if just one atom is disturbed in the sheet. Thats a more interesting question and the answer has direct impact on nanotechnology engineering practices.

  12. Richard Boyce

    Tapering

    The tapering suggests that the flaps will only pull back so far before breaking off.

  13. You aint sin me, roit Silver badge
    Coat

    Sheet under tension rips apart when punctured?

    Luckily chickens have yet to realize that a single, focused attack will result in their prisons simply unravelling.

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