Scientists at University College London (UCL) have identified a potentially faster way of moving molecules across the surfaces of graphene and other materials. The team carried out computer simulations of tiny droplets of water as they interact with graphene surfaces that reveal that the molecules can "surf" across the surface whilst being carried by the moving ripples of graphene.
The study shows that because the molecules were swept along by the movement of strong ripples in the carbon fabric of graphene, they were able to move at a fast rate, at least ten times faster than previously observed. It was also found that by altering the size of the ripples and the type of molecules on the surface, it's possible to achieve fast and controlled motion of molecules other than water.
This research reveals an interesting new diffusion mechanism for motion across graphene that is inherently different from the usual random movements seen on other surfaces. The motion of atoms and molecules across the surface of materials is wildly important for many applications, such as the diffusion of molecules across the surface of catalysts, crystal growth or filtration. This research opens up a range of possibilities for industrial applications such as improved sensors and filters.