Alchemy in real life? These scientists turned graphite into gold –

They actually managed to convert graphite into gold. These MIT physicists become alchemists to advance technology.

This is a surprising discovery made by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The work goes beyond just making changes Gold graphite. In fact, this transformation allowed physicists to discover a material with unprecedented properties.

These modern alchemists have five thin layers stacked in a specific order Pencil lead. This resulted in a material that could be tuned three crucial and new properties that we knew nothing about natural graphite. An article published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology describes the research in detail.

50 shades of graphite

This surprising discovery reminds us that nature still has many surprises in store for us. “We never realized that all these interesting things were built into graphite,” commented the assistant professor in MIT’s physics department. Long Ju. He is also the leader of the team behind this discovery.

Remember, scientists finally managed to isolate this about twenty years ago Graphene. This material is mainly composed of graphite. Note that it represents a single layer of carbon atoms configured in hexagons reminiscent of the honeycomb structure a honeycomb.

Researchers then discovered the effects of Superposition of individual graphene layers. With this stacking and a Twisting the leaves at a certain angle, the material acquires new properties. These range from magnetism to superconductivity.

Twist-free stacking to convert graphite into gold

Long Ju and his colleagues focused their efforts on superimposing graphene layers. They then discovered that by eliminating the twist factor by stacking the five layers, a direct connection was created between them Electrons. They could communicate with each other. It is here electronic correlation.

This phenomenon thus leads to all sorts of new properties. But the “alchemists” at MIT didn’t stop there. The next step would allow them to convert graphite into gold.

In fact, they placed them five-layer rhombohedral stacked graphene between two layers of Boron nitride. This special sandwich was then provided with electrodes that allow it to adapt to different electrical voltages. Depending on the amount of electrons the material was magnetic, insulating Or topological.

Alchemy based on an innovative microscope

The graphene superimposed in a pentachouce rhombohedron is only a few billionths of a meter thick. Professor Lu and his team therefore needed equipment that could make this possibleNanoscale observation the variety of properties of a material. It turns out that the physicist designed one in 2021.


This particular device is actually called a microscope Diffusion-type optical microscopy Or s-SNOM. This allowed identification and isolation of the five layers in the desired overlay order.

Note that there are more than ten superposition orders – including the rhombohedron – with a stack of five layers.

The goal of turning graphite into gold is obviously not to get rich. The discovery brings better understanding of graphs. This opens the door to new applications in the technological field.