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Research Roundup Dec 31 2013

As we say goodbye to 2013, the work of research institutes and teams at universities around the world bring us an insight into what 2014 may hold. By Caroline Hayes.

Graphene research reveals magnetic field behavior
A tale with a twist emerges from MIT and is reported in Nature, reporting another property of the material graphene.

Placed under a powerful magnetic field, at low temperatures, A.F. Young, J.D. Sanchez-Yamagishi and B. Hunt and their team found that the graphene’s behavior changed as electrons moved around the conducting helical edge. Depending on whether the movement was clockwise or counter-clockwise. The researchers found that when the magnetic field was varied, edge states could be turned on or off. The properties of the helical edge states can be modulated, by balancing the applied field against an intrinsic anti-ferromagnetic instability, which spontaneously breaks the spin-rotation symmetry.

Mass production technique prepares way for semiconductor-ready graphene

image from UNIST

More graphene research, this time into an efficient method for mass production of BCN-graphene (boron/nitrogen co-doped graphene nanoplatelets). The team of UNIST (Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology) led by Professor Jong-Beom Baek, have been able to add boron into the framework to enable semiconductor applications.

The research team used nitrogen, which is smaller than carbon and boron, and paired two nitrogen atoms and two boron atoms to compensate the atomic size mismatch and allow it to be introduced into the graphitic network. The team reports that the resultant BCN-graphene generates a band-gap for FETs (field effect transistors).

First author Ph.D. candidate Sun-Min Jung believes “ this work is one of the biggest advancements in considering viability of a simple synthetic approach,” and Professor Baek explains its implications: “Now, the remaining challenge is fine-tuning the band-gap to improve the on/off current ratio for real device applications”.

Researchers are Professors Joon Hak Oh, Noejung Park, HuYoung Jeong and six graduate students.

Superconductors have to live up to their name
Two studies by international teams are challenging views of superconductivity. First, a group from Helmholtz-Zentrum, Berlin and Max Planck, based in Stuttgart, screened two materials, Bi2201 and Bi2212, which contain the characteristic components of copper oxide and bismuth. Resonant X-ray scattering using BESSY, the Helmholtz synchrotron, revealed the charge distribution on the inside of the materials.

Researchers at Princeton University scanned the samples with a raster tunnel microscope that records the charge distribution at the surface. Physicists at the University of British Columbia also examined the Bi2201 sample using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, revealing more details of the electronic structure of the material.

China’s telematics markets is set to change course
The shift from telematics to consumer-focused, electronics based automotive systems in the Chinese market will increase the use of wireless devices, such as smartphones, reports the Infotainment Market Overview from IHS.

Embedded telematics systems generated 1.5million units sold in 2013, rising to 4.3million by the end of 2020. However consumer electronics and hybrid alternatives are projected to surpass this with approximately 4.6million units sold during that year.

CE-device-based services are cheaper as they are able to use mobile devices to establish a two-way data connection for services. Hybrid systems feature both an embedded transmission control unit and the option to use a connected consumer electronics device to provide a data connection.

The introduction of Chevrolet’s Epica model in April 2011 started the era of CE-device telematics in China, the world’s largest car market. Since then, nine brands have adopted consumer electronics-device telematics. The profile of the customer is one that buys more high-end vehicles, and uses more wireless devices, to increase the market, and accounting for the triple digital annual expansion over the next three years in consumer electronics and hybrid telematics.

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