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Graphene discovery won scientists the 2010 Nobel prize in physics

Two University of Manchester scientists were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for their pioneering research on graphene, a one-atom-thick film of carbon whose strength, flexibility and electrical conductivity have opened up new horizons for pure physics research as well as high-tech applications.

Andre Geim and his colleague (and former postdoctoral assistant) Konstantin Novoselov first produced graphene in 2004 by repeatedly peeling away graphite strips with adhesive tape to isolate a single atomic plane. They analyzed its strength, transparency, and conductive properties in a paper for Science the same year.

It’s a worthy Nobel, for the simple reason that graphene may be one of the most promising and versatile materials ever discovered. It could hold the key to everything from super small computers to high-capacity batteries. Graphene properties are attractive to materials scientists and electrical engineers for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the fact that it might be possible to build circuits that are smaller and faster than what you can build in silicon.

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