The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics today to University of Manchester professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for their work isolating graphene from graphite and identifying its behavior. Graphene, a one-atom thick sheet of carbon, is the thinnest, strongest material ever discovered. It conducts heat and electricity, and despite being one atom thick, is so dense even helium cannot pass through it. As the Swedish Academy of Sciences said in the Nobel Prize announcement: "Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again."
Surprisingly, the isolation was the easy part – they peeled the graphene off of a graphite crystal using Scotch tape. However, their work from that moment on has already had a huge effect on materials science.
Here at PopSci, we've been tracking graphene's developments closely (and not just so we can say "we knew it when"). As it proves itself useful in everything from bandages to faster-than-ever transistors, we can't help but wonder if its talents will ever stop emerging. We've compiled a gallery of graphene's greatest hits so far so you can revisit its humble beginnings before the Nobel Prize goes to its head.
is an oxygen atom larger then a helium atom?
if so then I would think a layer of graphene built into the walls of space ships would help reduce the slow loss of oxygen in vacume.
also First ;)
Well deserved. And given that graphene is such a recent discovery, this is almost unprecedented. Usually the Nobel Prize go to discoveries that have already had noticeable impact on technology. This is to show the incredible potential for this magical carbon net.
Yay! Time to start working on graphene drives for faster space travel.
Too bad the Nobel lost its credibility when Obama received one.
Whoot! dont ya just love when an element you have so much of is right there and is harmless and at the same time also very useful?!
sounds very interesting. love the idea about using it in batteries to make them charge in minutes. i hope it means electric cars will be even better when they are sold to the public.
kickbush: Obama got a Nobel because he represents Americas willingness to accept change, not because he personally did anything that great. If Americans would stop complaining that he's not doing anything when they block his ideas he could actually turn the USA into an accepted member of the world instead of that playground bully.
But enough politics;
Clifford is actually onto something. Could we just put a layer of graphene onto anything that we need air tight? It may not work that well on its own, but a layer or two on top of something should help minimise air loss, no?
Since no one has answered Clifford's question, yes, oxygen is larger than helium (which is the second-smallest element, next to hydrogen).
Regarding graphene, I can't believe how amazing this material appears to be. Every time I read an article about it, I'm more and more amazed by how it can seemingly do everything.
This is so amazing, I'm glad they got the noble for this. They deserve it
Oh, carbon, you do amaze me, from being the basis of life here on earth, to being one of the strongest bound and useful element, you do show who's boss in the world of the elements.
Graphene sounds like magic. As earlier posts said, this could very quickly become a staple in aerospace engineering (esp. space). The quality of being airtight at one atom thick is simply astounding. With this material, a very light weight spacecraft could finally become a reality.
But this beckons the question: What is the cost to produce?
So I assume that even though it is airtight to helium and not smaller, it can help with the problem of hydrogen leakage? Perhaps tons of layers, maybe up to a nanometer or even a fraction of that could make it insignificant?
The Nobel prize organization has made a deliberate move in recent years to be more "edgy" in their choices in hope that their awards help to move the world rather than reward the world-changers.
Thus, they gave Obama the award in hope that reciving the peace prize would be a motivator for him to move the world towards peace (which seems to have not worked, as the Iraq withdrawl was signed into treaty by Bush before Obama took office, Afghanistan has evevated, and the Israel talks have floundered around gasping for air).
By choosing the interesting, but not yet world changing graphene, they are hoping to spur the research to reach that level of utility swiftly.
I wonder about the idea of graphene spinal cord repair or nerve repair for possibly reattaching limbs.
@Clifford Cannon, Xenodorx, and No More Heroes
You're right. The implications of this compound could lead to lighter spacecraft (possibly), more airtight spacecraft (along with aircraft and submersibles), composite material capable of shielding a spacecraft from solar and cosmic radiation through lining the material through the hull and by using the conductive material to generate magnetic fields for shielding.
Speaking of the conductive material it could also be used to make ion/plasma drives more efficient (since the material is more conductive than silicon). It may not be able to generate energy but conducting it with a suitable power source could be the leap we need to go interplanetary (maybe even interstellar).
Significant pressurization for composite material made with graphene could solve the design issue with Hydrogen fuel tanks on the X-33 test craft for the Venture Star Program of Lockheed Martin. If that pans out, Lockheed Martin will be able to develop this spacecraft as a viable replacement for NASA's STS mission, making for technological advancement rather than reversion with respect to LEO flight (i.e. moving from the space shuttle back to conical cramped modular rockets is technological regression as opposed to progression; not to mention the Venture Star would be the first space plane developed for Single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) transfer capable of a greater payload than the current shuttle, and capable of both manned and unmanned missions).
"Welcome! to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack!!!"
Wow modern day mithril. This is absolutely amazing!!!
I wish I could somehow use it on my website www.rundogrun.net LOL
Well, now that we find one of the keys to the universe, lets just hope that our advances in other areas outpace the inevitable weapons and armor that are already in the works. I remember a sci-fi book that talked about 'molecule blades'; basically invisible swords that can cut through anything. This is without a doubt the technology unrealized then. So what will be proof against the piezo electric snake that swims through the air and can't be seen? Sure would be nice if my wife's suggestion of artificial lungs could be considered a better use.
My thoughts exactly, how quickly can we weaponize this?
@dontbother Well you could get a bag made out of this and strangle people. Apparently no oxygen will get through at all!! So that means when you strangle someone you're going to get more strangle for your buck and faster than those lousy plastic bags.
I've been interested in the use of Hydrogen for cars instead of gasoline. The use of Graphene in fuel tanks would solve the size and high pressure problem.
If graphene will get used in every technology as they are telling it might change the world. And as well that opportunity is quite possible - I fount few articles about researches that are going on at the moment about it:
so in few decades it might be as commonly used as a steel is today!