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Carbon Material Pioneers Awarded Nobel Physics Prize

October 5, 2010

Two Russian-born University of Manchester professors have been presented with the Nobel Prize for Physics as a result of their groundbreaking research of a substance that is one hundred times stronger than steel, despite being the thinnest material in the world.

Professors Andre Geim, 51, and Konstantin Novoselov, 36, were awarded the accolade due to their work with graphene, a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms that resemble chicken wire but could ultimately be used to replace carbon fiber in the development of automobiles, airplanes, and other goods. It was discovered at the university in 2004, and has been the topic of numerous research papers written by Geim and Novoselov over the past several years.

“This is a fantastic honor,” Geim said in a statement. “People have been talking about graphene as a possible prize winner for a number of years so for the community in graphene research it hardly comes as a surprise. However I personally did not expect to get this prize. I slept soundly last night because I never expected to win it.”

“Having won the Nobel Prize, some people sit back and stop doing anything, whereas others work so hard that they go mad in a few years. But I will be going into the office as usual and continuing to work hard and paddle through life as usual,” he added. “I have lots of research papers to work on at the moment which all need writing up so I will be carrying on as normal.”

“I was really shocked when I heard the news and my first thought was to go to the lab and tell the team,” said Novoselov. “We have had a fantastic seven years working together on this new material graphene”¦ I’m grateful to everyone who has collaborated with us.”

“Since it is practically transparent and a good conductor, graphene is suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels and maybe even solar cells,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the organization that serves as the selection board for the Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry, said in its citation, according to various media reports.

The Royal Academy also noted that graphene transistors could be faster than modern-day silicon ones and lauding the Manchester professors for their “ingenious” demonstrations of the material, which included making a frog levitate in a magnetic field back in 1997.

In terms of the possibilities surrounding graphene, Geim told the Associated Press that the unique material “has all the potential to change your life in the same way that plastics did.”

Image Caption: Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms. Courtesy Wikipedia

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