Quantum-critical conductivity of the Dirac fluid in graphene

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Science  12 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6436, pp. 158-162
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat8687

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Electron hydrodynamics in graphene

Electrons can move through graphene in a manner reminiscent of fluids, if the conditions are right. Two groups studied the nature of this hydrodynamic flow in different regimes (see the Perspective by Lucas). Gallagher et al. measured optical conductivity using a waveguide-based setup, revealing signatures of quantum criticality near the charge neutrality point. Berdyugin et al. focused on electron transport in the presence of a magnetic field and measured a counterintuitive contribution to the Hall response that stems from hydrodynamic flow.

Science, this issue p. 158, p. 162; see also p. 125


Graphene near charge neutrality is expected to behave like a quantum-critical, relativistic plasma—the “Dirac fluid”—in which massless electrons and holes collide at a rapid rate. We used on-chip terahertz spectroscopy to measure the frequency-dependent optical conductivity of clean, micrometer-scale graphene at electron temperatures between 77 and 300 kelvin. At charge neutrality, we observed the quantum-critical scattering rate characteristic of the Dirac fluid. At higher doping, we detected two distinct current-carrying modes with zero and nonzero total momenta, a manifestation of relativistic hydrodynamics. Our work reveals the quantum criticality and unusual dynamic excitations near charge neutrality in graphene.

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