A longstanding scientific theory was proven recently when scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science were able to visualize the hydrodynamic flow of electrons for the first time.Electrons are often spoken of as if they were flowing; a liquid flow of sorts had long been hypothesized. However, they actually move more like gasses than liquids – meaning they don't collide with one another like liquid particles do. In order to get electrons to flow like liquid, a special kind of conductor was needed. That conductor was graphene, a sheet of carbon with the thickness of a single atom.With the right conductor, the team then needed to properly see the expected flow – something strong enough to look inside the material but with enough gentleness that it wouldn't interfere with the flow.“Theories suggest that liquid electrons can perform cool feats that their non-liquid counterparts cannot," said Prof. Shahal Ilani, head of the team in the Institute’s Department of Condensed Matter Physics. "But to get a clear-cut proof that electrons can, indeed, form a liquid state, we wanted to directly visualize their flow.”In a study published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team described their methodology. Utilizing a nanoscale detector built from a carbon nanotube transistor, it's possible to visualize the flowing electrons without disrupting the flow. “Our technique is at least a thousand times more sensitive than alternative methods; this enables us to image phenomena that previously could only be studied indirectly,” said Weizmann team member Dr. Joseph Sulpizio. The team followed this up with another study, this time published in the journal Nature. In this study, they used their technique with specialized graphene devices produced by the University of Manchester, England's Sir Andre Geim. With these devices, which were designed to help guide the flow, the team was able to observe it with unprecedented clarity – the electrons flowed faster in the center but were slowed down by the walls, exactly like water in a pipe.According to team member Dr. Lior Ella, the implications of the study have the potential to be groundbreaking in the field of electronics, as it can create ways of lowering electrical resistance.“Computing centers and consumer electronics are devouring an ever-increasing amount of energy, and it’s imperative to find ways to make electrons flow with less resistance,” Ella explained.