Why Graphene Won Scientists the Nobel Prize?
Two scientists from Manchester University have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for their graphene research. The award was won thanks to a unique study of graphene, carbon fiber tablets of an atom whose properties (strength, flexibility and unique electrical conductivity) opened up a whole new horizons for both pure physics and high technology.
It’s worth getting a valuable Nobel Prize for a very simple reason: Graphene could be one of the most versatile materials that really promises. Furthermore, it could be the key to the construction of thin computers, as well as battery life of unbelievable lifespan. Features of graphene are equally interesting to solid state physicists and engineers of electrical engineering for many reasons, most probably the most important material for making assemblies that will be smaller and faster than those based on silicon.
What is it really about?
“Imagine the crystals of the thickness of just one atom, the two-dimensional surface of the atoms peeled off from the surface of conventional crystals,” said Andre Geim, Nobel Prize winner, in a science journal New Scientist. “The graphene is more solid and circular than a diamond, and it can again be stretched by a quarter of a length, like a rubber. The surface of the graphene plot is best known for its weight.”Geim and his colleague Konstantin Novoselov, former assistant at the postdoctoral study, for the first time produced graphene in 2004. The repetitive peeling of the graphite layers with the adhesive tape was able to isolate the plates of the thickness of one atom. The analysis of strength, transparency and conductivity properties was published the same year in the scientific journal Science.
Super-thin data storage
Scientists around the world already use graphene. The team from Rice University has constructed a new graphite-based device, a flash type of memory with much greater capacity and faster workflow compared to existing data storage technology. Two scientists from South Florida University earlier in the same year developed techniques for guiding graphene conductivity using quasi-line defects.
There are also many graphene applications as energy storage technologies. The Graphene Energy company from Texas uses graphene to create new ultra condensers that can store and distribute electricity. Various companies that are currently using carbon nanotubes for the production of electrically-powered carriers (clothes that can charge electrical appliances) are beginning to use graphene because it is thinner and promises also potentially cheaper production. More and more research is beginning to deal with the development of faster and cheaper methods of mass production of graphene.
Optical devices: solar cells and flexible touch screens
A team of scientists from Cambridge University, published an article in the science journal Nature Photonics, stating that the greatest potential of graphene lies in its ability to conduct light just as well as electricity. Sturdy, flexible and photo-sensitive graphene could stimulate the solar development of solar cells and LED technology. It could also be used in the production of new devices such as flexible touch screen, photodetector and ultra-bright laser. Furthermore, graphene could replace rare and expensive metals such as platinum and do the same job faster and more efficiently and significantly cheaper.
Physics of high energy particles
In the field of pure science, according to Geim, graphene “allows the production of experiments involving quantum particles of high velocities, of which scientists at CERN (near Geneva) can only dream of.” Since graphene is almost two-dimensional, electrons can move through its network structure almost without any resistance. In fact, they behave like Heisenberg’s relative particles, whose mass is zero. The thing is, however, a little more complicated, but it has a quick explanation. If we want mass in the traditional sense, objects have to occupy some volume. Electron suppressed through two-dimensional graphene, they have neither of them. In other words, the same properties that graphene make so efficient storage and transmission medium are also about the basics of the subatomic world.