The Thinnest Material Ever – Graphene

No not graphite, Graphene, the thinnest material ever created has won two physicists the Nobel Prize in Physics. It’s 100 times stronger than steel, 1 atom thick, and is made by the same materials that make-up that number 2 pencil you needed for all those college Scantron tests. The winners of the award, Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim, two Russian physicists pictured here respectively.

Graphene is about as two-dimensional as you can get in our world of lengths, widths, and heights. It is made up of a string of carbon atoms only one atom thick, packed together to form a honeycomb like shape. Graphene is also transparent, which makes it a perfect candidate for applications in touch-screens, solar cells, and light panels just to name a few. It also has a great potential to create new material that can be used for any number of things, from advanced carbon fibers to new innovative electronics.

Graphene as seen through a transmission electron microscope
Graphene has been a seven year long project for the two Nobel Laureates, along with a strange experiment involving magnetic fields and levitating frogs (This actually won Geim the Ignoble award, which is far more prestigious than the Noble in my opinion).
Graphene is being hailed as highly similar to when the first polymers were developed, which later revolutionized the world via plastics. However, plastics took nearly 100 years to come on the scene since the discovery of polymers, will we have to wait that long as well?

Probably not. Technology and the application thereof have increased at such an alarming rate I wouldn’t be surprised to see Graphene being used in designs next year. Moore’s Law contends that the rate of computer transistors roughly doubles every two years. Many scientists have started speculating that we’re running out of room for Moore’s Law with silicon based transistors. This is where Graphene comes in. IBM is already using it to create transistors with on/off rates that far exceed that of silicon, thus perpetuating Moore’s Law further into the future. So… that computer you just paid 1000$ for is going to be very obsolete soon.

The Future of Silicon Computers
Whatever the application of Graphene is tomorrow, it’s guaranteed to accelerate our lives somehow. Congratulations to Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim on their work, now get back to that levitation experiment and figure out how to make Hovercrafts(not to be confused by hoverrounds.) 


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