Oct 5, 2010

Department of WTF, Nobel bureau

This year's winners of the Nobel Prize in physics studied graphene, which is basically a flat layer of benzene rings all connected together. They had an unconventional way of the obtaining the material:
Graphene is a form of carbon in which the atoms are arranged in a flat hexagon lattice like microscopic chicken wire, a single atom thick. 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, according to tests conducted by two Columbia University researchers, Jeffrey Kysar and James Hone...

Graphene is closely related to two other forms of carbon that have generated intense interest in recent years: buckyballs, which are soccer-ball arrangements of carbon atoms, and nanotubes, which are rolled-up sheets of carbon atoms. It was long thought, however, that an essentially two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms would be unstable and would warp or fold up. Dr. Geim and Dr. Novoselov first succeeded in creating flakes of graphene by peeling them off piles of graphite — the material that is in your pencil lead — using Scotch tape.
Science is awesome.

[Thanks, Barbara]

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