IISER Mohali, Knowledge city, Sector 81, SAS Nagar, Manauli PO 140306

Can graphene be used to teach quantum mechanics?

Prof. Sushanta Dattagupta (Former Director, IISER Kolkata, Former Vice-chancellor of Visva-Bharati, and currently at NIT Durgapur)

Location : LH3, Lecture Hall Complex, IISER Mohali
Abstract: Graphene is a wonder material of the future with remarkable attributes of immense technological significance. It is an allotrope of carbon (C) in the structure of a single layer of C atoms, each on the vertex of a hexagonal (honeycomb) lattice. Graphene displays extraordinary properties: (i) mechanical strength – it is one hundred times stronger than the strongest steel; (ii) unusual transport – it is a highly efficient conductor of both heat and electricity; (iii) magnetism – it has a large and nonlinear diamagnetism facilitating levitation; (iv) catalysis – a single layer of graphene is hundred times more chemically reactive than thicker sheets; (v) bio-materials – it is an extremely sensitive bio-sensor, just to name a few. It is not surprising then that graphene has captured the imagination and inquisition of today’s internet-savvy high-school and undergraduate students. Yet, it is fascinating to note that all the material characteristics of graphene are the outcome of basic quantum mechanical principles – non-relativistic as well as relativistic. Quantum mechanics is generally considered to be an abstruse topic being far removed from the day-to-day reality of the ‘classical’ world. Given the curiosity that graphene has generated amongst the youth, is it possible to channelize this excitement to arouse heightened awareness of the subject of quantum mechanics? It is this aspect of ‘science education’ that we will explore in this note and offer a curriculum of bringing the rich laboratory of graphene to the realm of blackboard teaching of quantum mechanics. We will see that we can build up the story by starting from fundamental quantum chemistry that is taught to today’s class XI students and construct, step-by-step, a pathway to modern ideas of quantum condensed matter.

Host: Dr. Goutam Sheet, Department of Physical Sciences, IISER Mohali (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)
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