Electrons trying to catch up with photons

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How electrons interact with other electrons in graphene affects how quickly they travel in the material, leading to its high conductivity. Scientists from the Centre for Extreme Matter and Emergent Phenomena at Utrecht University have developed a model attributing the greater conductivity in graphene to the accelerating effect of electrons interacting with photons.

In this study, physicists have devised a way of testing what happens when electrons interact with each other. To do so, they used pseudo-quantum electrodynamics, a theory that describes the interaction between electrons mediated by photons existing in different space-time dimensions. While the electrons are limited to propagating on a plane, the photons are free to move in 3D space.

As part of the study, the authors also took into account a weak magnetic field perpendicular to the graphene plane. They then used two different methods to examine its trending effect on the way the energy of electrons is spread around the vertex of the cone. The slope of the cone is the electron speed, which is three hundred times smaller than the speed of light.

The finding is that electrons have a tendency to increase their velocity towards that of the photons, which travel at the speed of light. And the weak magnetic field does not change this trend. Therefore, the electrons' collective behaviour, which is linked to conductivity, remains the same as in the absence of a weak field.