News / Science & Technology

Graphene Discovery Wins Nobel Prize

Professor Andre Geim, left, and Dr. Konstantin Novoselov, who have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, pose for pictures outside Manchester University, Manchester, England,  05 Oct 2010
Professor Andre Geim, left, and Dr. Konstantin Novoselov, who have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, pose for pictures outside Manchester University, Manchester, England, 05 Oct 2010

Multimedia

Audio

Two Russian-born scientists have won the Nobel Prize for Physics for their discovery of a material that could affect computers, phones, security devices and medical research.  Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov's discovery of graphene earned them the 2010 Nobel Prize and their discovery could have wide-ranging uses.

It started with a simple experiment: take some graphite - the black stuff in the middle of a pencil - and put a piece of tape over it.  When the scientists at the University of Manchester did that, they found that they could develop a material that conducts electricity well, is extremely strong, and is thin enough to see through.  

Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov's work focused on the properties of graphene and that led to Tuesday's announcement by Staffan Normark in Stockholm.

"The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly to Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov, both at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.  And the Academy citation runs 'for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene," he said.

This artist's rendition illustrates the electron energy levels in graphene as revealed by a unique NIST instrument
This artist's rendition illustrates the electron energy levels in graphene as revealed by a unique NIST instrument

Thinness is one of graphene's properties that make it so useful.  The material is only one atom thick, but is extremely strong for its size.  It also conducts electricity quickly at room temperature.  Phillip Schewe is with the American Institute of Physics in College Park, Maryland.  He told VOA that graphene's conductivity has implications for electronics and computers.

"Electrons, electricity move through graphene very quickly without losing much energy. And that's always a good thing, for an electronic product.  You want electrons to move very quickly because all of our computers and other electronic equipment like iPhones depend on electronic gizmos that work very quickly, are very compact and cheap.  And graphene looks as if it is going to fulfill all of those criteria," said Schewe.

Schewe says that graphene could also be used to make transistors in integrated circuits that could make computers cheaper and faster as well.

Graphene, a honeycomb-shaped molecule of carbon atoms, also is extremely strong for its size.  Phillip Schewe says its mechanical strength and light weight make the material useful to reinforce fabrics and building materials.

"It's transparent, so if you saw a little chip of it, it would look like Saran wrap [clear plastic wrap] only much smaller and thinner," he said. "But even a single sheet of it is very strong. And if you contrive tests to compare it to other strong materials, it turns out to be about 100 times stronger than steel.

Phaeton Avouris is an IBM fellow and monitor of nanotechnology at IBM.  He told VOA that graphene has implications for security and medical technology as well.

"We want to use graphene for high frequency transistors," said Avouris. "And these transistors can have applications for all kinds of communications.  Wireless communications from cell phones to Wi-Fi stations to radar and also to medical and security imaging, a variety of applications that we don't even know yet because we cannot generate the kind of frequencies that graphene can generate."

For their work, Geim and Novoselov earn $1.5 million and a gold medal.  Geim said Tuesday that he was shocked and surprised by the announcement but planned to go to work as usual.  The Nobel committee will also hand out awards for chemistry, literature, the peace prize and economics.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid