james heymanThe strongest material ever is only one-atom-thick

Recently, two Russian-born scientists shared the Nobel Prize in physics for graphene, the thinnest, lightest and strongest material ever discovered, and it’s only one-atom-thick and nearly transparent.

According to Macalester physics Professor James Heyman, graphene is being investigated for a lot of different applications.

“The material’s incredibly strong, stronger than any other material,” said Heyman. “And it has very exceptional, or exotic, electronic properties which make it seem like it’s pretty well-suited for making, perhaps, the next generation of electronic devices transistors and things like that on a scale that’s smaller than even could possibly be made out of silicon.”

In Professor Heyman’s lab they’ve been working on graphene since the summer of 2009.

In his lifetime as a scientist, it’s one of the most exciting discoveries he’s experienced.

Graphene is a transformative technology, according to Heyman. “It’s totally different than almost any other material that exists.”

Heyman was surprised that a Nobel Prize was given so quickly to these scientists at this point in their careers, but he was not surprised that it was given for graphene.

“It’s a shot in the arm” for fellow physicists.

October 27 2010

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