The wonderful world of graphene

My former University of Manchester was thrilled last year when the Nobel Prize for Physics when to two of its researchers Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov who discovered graphene in 2004. The university was delighted with this week’s announcement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that graphene research will receive a £50 million investment.

But what is graphene and why is it so special? There is a technical explanation here and a popular explanation here.

In brief, graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms one atom thick arranged in a honeycomb lattice. The substance has some astonishing properties. It conducts electricity a million times better than copper and it is more transparent to visible light than any other known conductor. It is also stronger than all other conductors and more stretchable.

There could be an amazing number of uses and the UK could lead the commercial manufacture of the substance.


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