In 2004, scientists Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester, used adhesive tape to lift a thin layer of carbon from a block of graphite, and placed it on a silicone wafer. Graphite is the stuff commonly found in pencil lead.
As simple as this sounds, what these two scientists had created was a 2-dimensional form of carbon known as graphene, and in 2010 they received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. But that’s only part of the story.
What makes the discovery of graphene so important is all of its unusual properties. It is a pure form of carbon that is very thin, very strong and very expensive.
- SUPER THIN – It is only one atom thick, so it is almost transparent.
- SUPER STRONG – Graphene is the strongest material ever discovered, 100 times stronger than diamond, and 200 times stronger than steel, and yet flexible and even stretchable.
- SUPER CONDUCTOR – It conducts heat and electricity faster at room temperature than any other known material. It also charges and discharges electrically up to 1000x faster than traditional batteries.
- SUPER EXPENSIVE – Even using the most advanced processes for manufacturing it, graphene still runs around about $100,000 per square meter.
These unusual attributes have made graphene the most exciting new material in all of science.
Since its discovery, a total of 8,413 patents were granted by February 2013 in areas such as super computing, electronics, energy storage, telecommunications, renewable power, health care, and telecommunications.
Over the coming years, the price of graphene will go through an exponential price drop similar to Moore’s Law.
Here’s why graphene and a host of other super materials are turning material science into the hottest of all hot new fields of research.