Friday, October 15, 2010

Nobel Prize and Wonder Material Graphene

Russian born duo Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov shared the Noble prize in Physics 2010 for their work on a carbon compound called Graphene.

Graphene may not common to the man now, but experts believe that its amazing mechanical and electrical properties will prove as transformative to coming generations as the television, atomic bomb and silicon chip did in the decades after the Nobel committee first honored the scientists who made those inventions possible.

Graphene is a single-atom-thick planner sheet of carbon atoms (sp²-bonded) arrayed in a honeycomb pattern. Graphene is the basic structural element for all other graphite materials including graphite, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. It is the strongest material ever discovered, yet flexible like rubber. It conducts electricity better than silicon, and resists heat better than diamond. And it allows for physics experiments that would otherwise require miles-long particle accelerators to be performed on a desktop.
“It’s an amazing material with the incredible electronic properties and mechanical strength,” said Paul Sheehan, head of the surface nanoscience and sensors section at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

As an ultra-light but nearly indestructible material, graphene (and graphene composites) could drastically alter the aerospace and automotive industry, said Rodney Ruoff, a professor of engineering at the University of Texas, Austin.

Research has already accelerated to the point where laboratories can mass-produce the material, Ruoff said. Soon companies will be able to produce sheets of graphene hundreds of feet wide; embed it in other materials as a strengthening composite; or create microscopic flakes of it for use as a conductive ink.

Since electrons behave as waves in graphene, not as rubber balls as they do in silicon and metals, researchers can use graphene as a platform for observing particle behavior previously consigned to the world of theory, said Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, a professor of physics at MIT.

“Graphene has enabled us to study in small-scale experiments, cheap enough to do on your kitchen counter," Jarillo-Herrero said. “It created a whole field – condensed matter quantum physics – that wasn’t there before.”

Carbon is one of the most versatile elements in the periodic table, forming the base for diamonds, pencils and all life on Earth. Given that diversity, it is likely that the most transformative uses for graphene have yet to be discovered, Sheehan of the Office of Naval Research said.

Dr.Andre Geim
Born: 1958, Sochi, Russia
Research Professor
Director of Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology
Chair of Condensed Matter Physics
School of Physics & Astronomy
University of Manchester
Manchester, UK

Dr. Kostya Novoselov
Born: 1974, Nizhny Tagil, Russia
School of Physics & Astronomy
University of Manchester
Manchester, UK


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