Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nobel Prize Week--Physics

What's the strongest, thinnest material?  The best heat conductor?  As good a conductor of electricity as copper?  And is completely transparent?

If you're a physicist, you've known the answer for several years.  But the rest of us learned today about the new wonder material graphene, a form of carbon that's just one atom thick.   The structure of graphene is a lot like chicken wire (see above).  Applications for the new material are still in the planning and testing stage, but its strength and unique properties may revolutionize electronics.  We may be using graphene chips instead of silicon chips one day soon.

Russian physicists Andre Geim and  Konstantin Novoselov have won this year's Nobel Prize in Physics "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene."  

We'll be hearing and learning much more about graphene in the weeks and months ahead.  For now, take a look at the background information about graphene on the Nobel Prize site.

If you have any students who think science is boring and that there isn't anything more to discover, here's the perfect answer.  Even carbon, it seems, still has a few surprises for us!

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