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Hardware Hacking Hardware Science

Nobel Prize in Physics For Discovery of Graphene 139

bugsbunnyak writes "The 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded for the discovery of graphene to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. Graphene is a novel one-atom-thick lattice state of carbon which has demonstrated unique quantum mechanical properties. These properties derive in part from the 2-dimensional nature of the material: quantum interactions are constrained to the effectively planar dimension of the lattice. Graphene holds promise for physical applications including touch screens, light cells, and potentially solar panels. Geim becomes the first scientist to achieve a Nobel prize despite earlier winning the highly-coveted Ig Nobel in 2000 for his studies of diamagnetic levitation — also known as The Flying Frog." Slashdot originally mentioned the frog almost exactly 10 years ago.
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Nobel Prize in Physics For Discovery of Graphene

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  • Hmmm. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @01:14PM (#33796212) Homepage Journal

    If those awarding the Ig Nobels are themselves Nobel Prize Winners, if he wins another can he present the prize to himself? (Answers c/o Schrodinger's cat, P.O. Box 666.)

    Seriously, graphene was a fascinating discovery - doubly so given the simplicity of its discovery. Anyone could have used pencil lead and sellotape, the way these guys did, to create graphene - and may well have done. The only real difference is these guys wondered what they had and took a look. (There have been many discoveries over time like that. I'm beginning to realize just how much genius depends on asking questions others could have - perhaps should have - asked but didn't.)

    Problems with the best-known alternative to silicon (gallium arsenide) include that it's expensive, extremely toxic to make, result in much smaller wafers and have a much lower yield if you even get that far. It's also not very good at CMOS-style logic. However, silicon is already pushing the limits of what it can do so if you want faster computers, you have to have a good alternative lined up. Graphene may be a good option here, once it matures. Carbon is plentiful, there's no reason to believe the production of graphene will turn out to be hazardous, graphene transistors can be made to be faster than silicon ones and the IBM successfully used silicon fab tech to made it. What is not known is how to make anything complex or how it'll perform under such conditions.

    One area that GaAs is major is the aerospace industry. GaAs is much more radiation-resistant than silicon, which means you don't have to do mind-boggling contortions in the circuitry or add in lead shielding (both techniques are used, although the shielding seems to only be used by a handful of companies, the rest opt for circuits from hell). I can find no information on how radiation-resistant graphene would be, but at a glance I would imagine it to be at least as good as silicon, maybe slightly better. It may displace silicon in the aerospace markets, then, but probably not GaAs unless it's a lot better than I'm thinking.

    Since graphene has other properties that may be valuable (unusual strength for something one atom thick, interesting optical properties, weird magnetic properties, etc), it would not surprise me if it ends up being used in other industries for things that have no bearing on its semiconductor nature. It might be fun to speculate who can really exploit graphene in any practical way first.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <> on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @01:18PM (#33796276) Homepage Journal

    It's not being dismissed out of hand. It's being dismissed because it has been shown to not work.

    Any blinded experiment shows that.

    The fact the many cultures have woo in no way gives in validity.

    No one can see someone aura. If someone claims to they are either deluded, lying, or have low blood sugar and there eyes aren't focusing correctly; which leads them to a deluded belief.

  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @01:39PM (#33796568) Journal

    Easily measured by sensitive devices designed to measure it. Like voltmeters. And the sensitivity has to rise parabolically as the measuring device retreats from the test sample, but nearly infinitely at the boundary of the sample, so the parabola starts out pretty stuck when it becomes the shape of the curve.

    Frizzy-haired bints saying they "see" the aura around someone on a TV or movie screen are not gifted, they are nuts.

    BTW, your linked picture is not an "energy field" produced by a human body. It is a computer-drawn representation of millimeter-wave RF emitted by electronic devices and reflected from a human body. And a gun.

    So I'm using my psychic powers to say you're trolling.

  • by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @01:46PM (#33796684)

    Wow, that picture looks spooky. It also looks a lot like a backscatter X-ray []. In fact, the Wikipedia article features the same image.

    The body produces an energy field that can be easily measured.

    Citation needed, but anyway: what's an energy field? If you just mean a regular physical field, then well done! you've discovered that humans have mass. If you don't, then please clarify what you are actually talking about, and how you can measure it.

  • by vsage3 ( 718267 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @01:53PM (#33796792)
    Geim's original paper on the subject ( [] ) was a real fascination because it was so simple and yet enabled many people to do real research. The original paper uses scotch tape to peel off monolayers of different bulk materials, but only graphene showed anything interesting (in particular, the so-called "field-effect" which is the principle behind CMOS transistors. To be sure, the quality of graphene produced from this method is complete crap compared to more advanced methods used by groups today (chemical vapor deposition of various organic molecules, carbon gettering from metals, epitaxial growth by silicon sublimation from SiC), but an impressive amount of exotic physical phenomena (e.g., quantum hall effect) was seen in what was essentially crap.

    No doubt, Geim has probably indirectly gotten thousands of researchers perhaps a billion dollars in funding in less than a decade, but I don't think Geim's contribution was as much physics as it was successfully marketing his research (outsiders like to think of science as being purely meritocratic, but it scientists are still people, and people are susceptible to hype). In my opinion, there are many better physics researchers in the field than Geim himself, but none of them are nearly as good at communication and generating buzz.

    In any case, congratulations to him for winning it so soon.
  • by bhartman34 ( 886109 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:22PM (#33798240)
    Okay, so the two dimensions referred to are the dimensions the electrons can travel, rather than the way we usually think of spatial dimensions? I think I understand that.
  • Re:ROFLMAO (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Tuesday October 05, 2010 @03:46PM (#33798582)

    And the only way a psychic could see _that_ kind of "aura" is if their eyes could produce such radiation. Which is trivial to measure with a geiger counter, if they want to make such a claim.

    i'm not getting in the middle of this but Before you go on bashing someone get your head on straight.

    to SEE something they need to be RECEPTIVE to it not PRODUCE it.. we all see light (except the blind) yet none of our eyes produce light.

    lots of birds and animals are more sensitive to infrared than we are.

    even in the case of back scatter radiation imaging - i wouldn't be surprised if someone out of the billions of people might have a slight difference in chemistry to have their eyes receptive to it - how their brain reacts to it is each's guess, but mine could see it being a "aura"/"mask". as for a source of x-rays.. sunlight works well.. for a low source.

    hell one of the ways we detect radio active materials is by watching voltage variations of He3 as it interacts with neutrino radiation - so what would happen if my body put He3 in the cones/rods of my eyes? how would my brain read the data?

    while i agree i'd like to meet some of the people that can see "aura"s and have them actually demonstrate it repeatedly and consistently. i'm also open to the idea that it could exist.

    anything that you can build a mechanical detector for - i'm willing to bet that biology can build an organic (carbon or not) based version given the need for it.

"It says he made us all to be just like him. So if we're dumb, then god is dumb, and maybe even a little ugly on the side." -- Frank Zappa