Link of the Week - Nobel Prize follows Ig Nobel

Link of the Week - Nobel Prize follows Ig Nobel


Artist's impression of a graphene transistor. Image courtesy physorg

A first has just occurred in the world of Nobel Prize awards: Andre Geim, a Russian-born physicist, who was previously awarded an Ig Nobel for using magnets to levitate a frog, received a Nobel Prize in Physics for his experiments on a 2-D substance called 'graphene.' Graphene, which is one-atom thick and entirely made from carbon, comes from the 'lead' in a pencil.

The substance is made up of a handful of atoms in a honeycomb lattice, akin to atomic scale chicken wire. At this scale, its properties truly shine as Andre and his team discovered that the material conducts electricity 100 times faster than silicon.Possible future applications of this material could be for the creation of ultra-fast transistors for the next generation of computers, electronics, smart displays and quantum-dot computers.

Graphene's other unique properties are that as a crystal structure it is 100 times stronger than steel, and so dense that not even the smallest gas atom can pass through it. Andre and his colleague Konstantin Novoselov, extracted the graphene by using a simple yet effective method: using Scotch to tape peel off thin flakes of the substance from graphite.

The Ig Nobel committee states that "technically" Andre Geim is the first person to individually win both prizes. It seems Andre's 'playful' approach to physics has led to a 'serious' breakthrough that could revitalize and revolutionize computer technology in the next few decades.