Russian scientists have explained one of the amazing properties of graphene

© Fotolia / arsdigitalМолекулярная structure of grapheneRussian scientists have explained one of the amazing properties of graphene© Fotolia / arsdigital

. Physicists from Russia found an explanation for why the addition of graphene in certain polymers causes them to produce electricity when compressed and stretched, and found a way to improve their quality, reports the press service of the Institute of mathematical problems of biology RAS.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms connected by chemical bonds structure resembles the geometry of a honeycomb structure. It has a high strength and unique electrical properties. For the creation of graphene immigrants from Russia Konstantin Novoselov and Andrey Geim was awarded the Nobel prize 2010 in physics.

As noted by Vladimir Bystrov from the Institute of mathematical problems of biology, Russian Academy of Sciences and his colleagues, one of the most unusual properties of graphene is that the addition of nanoparticles to this «Nobel» material dramatically changes the properties of many polymers, turning them into materials that can convert mechanical vibrations into electrical current.

The phenomenon of electric current during compression or mechanical deformation of certain materials, so-called piezoelectric effect, was discovered in the late 19th century, French physicists Jacques and Pierre Curie. Over the next half century, this property has found its application in everyday life — in the form of voltage source. and a sensitive element in microphones, and in science, where piezoelectric effect is used for the precise manipulation of microscopic devices.

The opening of similar properties of graphene, according to scientists, opened the way to create very flexible, lightweight and durable piezomaterials, however, physicists faced a problem – their properties changed utterly unexpected and inexplicable way when you change the structure. For example, when physics was increasing the nanoparticles concentration in the material, its piezoelectric properties are deteriorated, not improved, as the scientists expected.

To solve this puzzle Bystrov and his team have created a computer model of such materials, and analyzed the changes of their properties at the level of individual electrons and atoms when added to the graphene.

As it turned out, the piezoelectric properties of these materials strongly depended on the distance from each other were parts of the «Nobel carbon» molecules of polymers. If this distance has been even slightly less or more than optimal distance between the molecules and graphene, then the strength of the effect decreased and the material has started worse than to convert mechanical energy into electric current.

Revealing the roots of the unusual behavior of graphene, Bystrov and his colleagues have calculated some optimal arrangements of nanoparticles and polymers. These calculations, as scientists hope, will help Grafenauweg the piezoelectric elements quickly penetrate into industry and everyday life of Russians and citizens of other countries.