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2Physics Quote:
"Lasers are light sources with well-defined and well-manageable properties, making them an ideal tool for scientific research. Nevertheless, at some points the inherent (quasi-) monochromaticity of lasers is a drawback. Using a convenient converting phosphor can produce a broad spectrum but also results in a loss of the desired laser properties, in particular the high degree of directionality. To generate true white light while retaining this directionality, one can resort to nonlinear effects like soliton formation."
-- Nils W. Rosemann, Jens P. Eußner, Andreas Beyer, Stephan W. Koch, Kerstin Volz, Stefanie Dehnen, Sangam Chatterjee
(Read Full Article: "Nonlinear Medium for Efficient Steady-State Directional White-Light Generation"
)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Physics Nobel Prize 2010: Graphene

Andre Geim (photo courtesy: Sergeom, Wikimedia Commons) and Konstantin Novoselov (photo courtesy: University of Manchester, UK)

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2010 was awarded jointly to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of the University of Manchester "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene"

Graphene is a form of carbon. As a material it is completely new – not only the thinnest ever but also the strongest. As a conductor of electricity it performs as well as copper. As a conductor of heat it outperforms all other known materials. It is almost completely transparent, yet so dense that not even helium, the smallest gas atom, can pass through it. Carbon, the basis of all known life on earth, has surprised us once again.

Homepage of Andre Geim >> Homepage of Konstantin Novoselov >>
Link to the Mesoscopic Physics Group, University of Manchester, UK >>


Geim and Novoselov extracted the graphene from a piece of graphite such as is found in ordinary pencils. Using regular adhesive tape they managed to obtain a flake of carbon with a thickness of just one atom. This at a time when many believed it was impossible for such thin crystalline materials to be stable.

However, with graphene, physicists can now study a new class of two-dimensional materials with unique properties. Graphene makes experiments possible that give new twists to the phenomena in quantum physics. Also a vast variety of practical applications now appear possible including the creation of new materials and the manufacture of innovative electronics. Graphene transistors are predicted to be substantially faster than today’s silicon transistors and result in more efficient computers.

Since it is practically transparent and a good conductor, graphene is suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels, and maybe even solar cells.

When mixed into plastics, graphene can turn them into conductors of electricity while making them more heat resistant and mechanically robust. This resilience can be utilised in new super strong materials, which are also thin, elastic and lightweight. In the future, satellites, airplanes, and cars could be manufactured out of the new composite materials.

This year’s Laureates have been working together for a long time now. Konstantin Novoselov, 36, first worked with Andre Geim, 51, as a PhD-student in the Netherlands. He subsequently followed Geim to the United Kingdom. Both of them originally studied and began their careers as physicists in Russia. Now they are both professors at the University of Manchester.

Playfulness is one of their hallmarks, one always learns something in the process and, who knows, you may even hit the jackpot. Like now when they, with graphene, write themselves into the annals of science.

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