Russian-born physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who have been working at the University of Manchester in the UK have both been awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for their work with ultra-thin material graphene.
The pair have been investigating the properties of the world’s thinnest material, graphene, which is composed of carbon flakes which are arranged in a single-atom thickness in a pattern described as ‘like chicken wire’.
Graphene is not only the thinnest material in the world, but also the strongest, making it of remarkable value. It is said that a sheet of graphene, if placed over a tea cup would support the weight of a car which was bearing down on it on a pen point.
Graphene is completely transparent and is able to conduct heat and electricity much better than any other material currently under study. The pair will split the nearly $1.5 million in prize money between them.
Geim, 51 and Novoselov, 36 say that the graphene creation was a product of what they call “Friday evening” experimentation, where they tested ‘crazy’ things which might or might nor eventuate into something. Graphene, so it happens, was an amazing example of a ‘crazy’ experiment leading to a unique discovery. The Royal Swedish Academy of Science, where the award was presented, said in a statement, “Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again.”
Geim has previously won an IgNobel, a parody award, for managing to levitate a frog in a magnetic field, no doubt another “Friday evening” endeavor.