Graphene: An electron wonderland

Aula B. Touschek (Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati)

Aula B. Touschek

Laboratori Nazionali di Frascati, Via Enrico Fermi 40, Frascati

Via Enrico Fermi 40 00044 Frascati

The ability to isolate Graphene, a one-atom-thick two-dimensional crystal made by carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb pattern, and control its electrical properties [1] has led to a revolution in material science and condensed matter physics [2]. Electrons in graphene behave as massless Dirac fermions, the role of the speed of light c being played by the Fermi velocity vF ≈ c/300 [3]. This essential feature of electrons in graphene derives from its unusual linear band dispersion [4], ultimately stemming from the underlying honeycomb topology. This basic solid-state effect has led to the unique possibility to test quantum relativistic phenomena in table-top experiments [5]. In the first part of the talk I will review the salient properties of graphene, summarize the main directions of fundamental and applied research and present recent results obtained by our group [6,7]. In the second part of the talk I’ll focus on the issue of spontaneous symmetry breaking effects linked to lattice-scale order. These many-body phenomena yield unusual ground states where Dirac quasiparticles are non-uniformly distributed between the two triangular sub-lattices forming the honeycomb pattern [8]. I’ll show how these phenomena can be simulated in nanofabricated artificial lattices with honeycomb topology [9,10,11].

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