Science Questions

Why do we Consider Graphene to be Two Dimensional?

Sun, 12th Dec 2010

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Silfa Zoidberg, via Facebook asked:

I don't understand why graphene is considered 2-dimensional. One atom thick is one atom thick... No? Why do we call it 2-dimensional when clearly, it has a third dimension?


We posed this question to Dr. Karl Coleman from Durham University...

Karl -   I guess you could argue it has a third dimension, but, one atom thick is really the thinnest you can go.  So, I would argue that it is negligible in thickness in one direction and that is why we call it a 2-dimensional material and graphite of course would be the 3-dimensional version where you have several layers that make up the structure.  So basically, you can't get thinner than one atom I would argue.

Dave -    And I guess also, the electrons actually have a wavelength, so in effect something a bit like a size and the wavelength is of the order of the thickness of the graphene.  So, to the electron, it does look like a 2-dimensional thing because it is as thick as they are.

Karl -   It is.  It is confined in that 2-dimension.  You're right, yes.


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