Cover image for Vol. 18 Issue 10

Editor: Greta Heydenrych; Editorial Board Chairs: Christian Amatore, Michael Grätzel, Michel Orrit

Impact Factor: 3.138

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2015: 8/35 (Physics Atomic Molecular & Chemical); 50/144 (Chemistry Physical)

Online ISSN: 1439-7641

Associated Title(s): Advanced Materials, ChemBioChem, ChemCatChem, ChemElectroChem, ChemPhotoChem, ChemSusChem, Small

October 05, 2010

2010 Physics Nobel Prize for Graphene Research

2010 Physics Nobel Prize for Graphene ResearchThe 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to Russian-born scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin (Kostya) Novoselov, University of Manchester (UK), "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene", a new form of the element carbon with exceptional properties. Graphene is the thinnest and strongest material known. It is almost transparent and is also an exceptionally good conductor of heat and electricity. These unique properties make it an ideal candidate for a wide array of practical uses. Graphene was the first two-dimensional material to be discovered. The wafers can be used to study some of the most peculiar effects of quantum mechanics.

"The excitement about graphene evolves from its unique combination of extraordinary properties", says Vikas Berry, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University (USA). "It exhibits ultrahigh mobility at room temperature (the highest for any material), ultrahigh mechanical strength (the highest for any nanomaterial), a high optical absorptivity of 2.3% per sheet, ultrahigh thermal conductivity (25 times that of silicon), high impermeability, disallowing even hydrogen to pass through, and high electron transparency. Imagine a single nanomaterial having all these remarkable properties!", he says. Together with several collaborators, Geim and Novoselov isolated graphene from a piece of graphite such as that found in ordinary pencils. The researchers used regular adhesive tape to rip off thin flakes of the material, finally obtaining a carbon sheet with a thickness of just one atom. A chemically modified form of graphene had been reported in the early 1960s by Hanns-Peter Boehm et al. of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich (Germany) but the importance of the material was not recognized until recently.

"Only six years after its discovery, graphene has shown extraordinary applications", Berry says. One of them is the well-known single-bacterial/DNA detector developed in his group, but there are many others, he adds. For example: ultrafast photodetectors, single-molecule detectors, hydrogen visualization templates for TEM, tunable spintronic devices, etc. Graphene's unusual electronic, mechanical and chemical properties at the molecular scale promise ultrafast transistors for electronic devices –much faster than today's silicon transistors– and could therefore lead to more efficient computers. Since it is practically transparent (and a good conductor), graphene is also suitable for producing touch screens, light panels and maybe even solar cells. Moreover, the material can be mixed into plastics, turning them into conductors of electricity while making them more heat-resistant and mechanically robust. This can lead to totally new composite materials, which can be incredibly strong, flexible and stable and could be used in cars, satellites and aircraft technology. "Several new applications and graphene-based materials are coming up, including graphene wrapping for TEM imaging, graphene nanoribbons, graphene quantum dots and graphene composites", Berry says.

Geim (51) and Novoselov (36) collaborated as PhD supervisor and student in the Netherlands before moving to the UK where they made their groundbreaking discovery. "I sent a congratulatory note to Kostya Novoselov and Andre Geim this morning", says Professor Rodney S. Ruoff of the University of Texas at Austin. "Graphene is an exciting material with many fascinating properties. We have recently published an extensive review of the history of experimental and theoretical work on graphene (and graphene oxide), which is the cover article of Advanced Materials. This could be of interest to your readers for understanding more about this exciting material!".

Read the recent ChemPhysChem papers on the route to functional graphene oxide and graphene on Au(111).

Figure: Nobel Medal (©® The Nobel Foundation).

Kira Welter

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