Graphene: Unexpected Science in a Pencil Trace
Institute of Physics in Scotland, Edinburgh Programme – 2011 / 12
Abstract: In this Lecture, I will present the rapid progress that has been made in the field of Graphene, the 2-dimensional wonder material that has captured the imagination of the scientific community in recent years. Graphene was first isolated and studied in 2004 at The University of Manchester by Prof A. Geim and Prof. K. Novoselov, and they were rewarded with the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for this work. In the subsequent 7 years, there has been rapid progress in understanding its superlative fundamental properties and developing amazing applications. For example, graphene is the thinnest, lightest, strongest material known to man. It is stretchable, bendable, yet impervious to even gasses. Its potential applications include the next generation of high-speed, low-power computer chips, flexible touch-screens and even flexible computers, conductive coatings for aerospace applications, etc. Nonetheless, it is a very accessible, down-to-earth material; anyone can make it at home with just some cello-tape and graphite (pencil lead), just as the Nobel laureates did. I will also discuss how advanced transmission electron microscopy can be used to see individual atoms in graphene and demonstrate a ‘virtual microscope’ application for iPads in which everyone can do this for themselves.