Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Incredible coal, graphite, diamonds, buckyballs, and nanotubes...

What do they all have in common?  They are made from carbon, the atom of life (for Earth at least).  And two researchers have now won the Nobel Prize in Physics for creating graphene, a single-atom thin layer of carbon arranged in large sheets.  They created it by peeling it off graphite with scotch tape... incredulous. More from the article in New York Times:

It is not only the thinnest material in the world, but also one of the strongest. If scaled up to the thickness of plastic refrigerator wrap, a sheet of graphene stretched over a coffee cup could support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point [...]. 

[...] graphene is able to conduct electricity as well as copper does and to conduct heat better than any other known material, and it is completely transparent. Physicists say that it could eventually rival silicon as a basis for computer chips, serve as a sensitive pollution-monitoring material, improve flat screen televisions, and enable the creation of new materials and novel tests of quantum weirdness, among other things.

So, in one single material, you go from scotch tape to quantum weirdness, that's something. Science can really be lovely and amazing. Oh, did I mention that graphene is invisible too?

1 comment:

EH said...

This is so amazing!