"The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Pencil Lead"

Vrylena Olney

We didn't have room in the latest newsletter to include all the different links and interesting resources related to the 2010 Nobel Prize award for work on graphene.   If you missed it in the newsletter, or are just looking for even more graphene information, keep reading:

The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene." Graphene is a flat sheet of carbon with a thickness of just one atom. 

In an interview with Nature magazine, Andre Geim describes some of graphene's properties: 

"It's the thinnest possible material you can imagine. It also has the largest surface-to-weight ratio: with one gram of graphene you can cover several football pitches (in Manchester, you know, we measure surface area in football pitches). It's also the strongest material ever measured; it's the stiffest material we know; it's the most stretchable crystal."

In addition, graphene conducts electricity as well as copper, and is a better heat conductor than any other known material. 

The Nature interview is available online here and is an interesting read.  Geim answers questions about why graphene won even though it hasn't done much yet, why it's exciting in the physics community, and why he hasn't patented graphene.

Learn More:

NISE Net Activities and Resources Related to Forms of Carbon
Finally, the NISE Net has a number of programs about some of the other forms of carbon:

  • "Forms of Carbon" is a cart demo that demonstrates how the nanoscale arrangement of atoms dramatically impacts a material’s macroscale behavior. Visitors learn about the structure and properties of four different forms of carbon. During the program, visitors interact with models of four different forms of carbon.  four other forms of carbon available for download from the catalog here: http://www.nisenet.org/catalog/programs
  • "Nanotube Balloons" is a large display made of balloons that can be used to draw visitors to a program on nanotechnology. Visitors observe how the carbon atoms are arranged in a carbon nanotube. The nanotube balloon model can be pre-constructed by museum staff, or visitors can help to build it.  "Balloon Nanotubes" is also available in tabletop size.
  • "Electric Squeeze" is a cart demo about piezoelectricity - how some crystals produce electricity when you squeeze them. Visitors learn about the history of piezoelectricity, how it's used, and how it's applied in nanotechnology. They make electric sparks, handle models and listen to cheesy music.
  • "Exploring Structures - Buckyballs" is a hands-on activity in which visitors fold up a precut shape to make a model of a buckyball. They learn that buckyballs are tiny, soccerball-shaped molecules made of carbon.
  • "World of Carbon Nanotubes" introduces the carbon nanotube, its discovery and applications.

(The quote in the blog post title is from David Saltzberg, a physicist at the University of California and the scientific consultant for the CBS show "The Big Bang Theory," as quoted in the New York Times.)