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El grafeno podría generar electricidad al recibir una fuerza mecánica

La estructura que posee el grafeno. (Imagen: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

El grafeno material que consiste en una sola capa de átomos de carbono colocados en una celosía hexagonal similar a la de un panal de miel podría unirse al selecto club de materiales piezoeléctricos que generan electricidad cuando se flexionan o se les presiona y viceversa, para sumar así otra más a sus ya numerosas aplicaciones potenciales.

Ingenieros de la Universidad de Houston en Texas han calculado que mediante la simple estrategia de abrir agujeros en una hoja de grafeno dispuestos en puntos específicos de la lámina siguiendo una configuración especial es factible forzar al grafeno a comportarse igual que un material piezoeléctrico, actualmente los científicos tienen en las substancias piezoeléctricas un buen recurso para desarrollos de vanguardia, como por ejemplo la recolección de energía mecánica en fuentes difícilmente aprovechables por otros métodos, o los músculos artificiales, y también sirven a los ingenieros para fabricar sensores de muy alta precisión.

El grafeno en su forma natural no es un material piezoeléctrico

Para los ingenieros de la Universidad de Houston predijeron que si tomaban una lámina de grafeno del tipo semiconductor o del tipo aislante, y la perforaban abriendo en ella agujeros triangulares en la disposición adecuada, bastaría aplicar una presión uniforme al material para hacer que se comportara como si fuera piezoeléctrico.

Los resultados obtenidos por el equipo de Swapnil Chandratre y Pradeep Sharma indican que los agujeros triangulares promueven en el grafeno una conducta piezoeléctrica, mientras que los agujeros redondos no tienen ese efecto.

Los investigadores también han determinado que la piezoelectricidad (o pseudopiezoelectricidad para ser más exactos) que posee el grafeno agujereado de este modo, es casi tan buena como la piezoelectricidad que tienen sustancias piezoeléctricas muy conocidas, por ejemplo el cuarzo.

 

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