Graphene pioneers win Nobel Prize

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Prof Andre Geim and Dr Konstantin Novoselov have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their pioneering work with graphene, the world’s thinnest material.

Graphene — a one-atom-thick planar sheet of carbon atoms densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice — was discovered at Manchester University in 2004. It has since promised to revolutionise semiconductor, sensor, and display technology and it could also lead to breakthroughs in fundamental quantum physics research.

Novoselov, 36, first worked with Geim, 51, as a PhD-student in the Netherlands. He subsequently followed Geim to the UK. Both men originally studied and began their careers as physicists in Russia.

The award of the Nobel Prize means there are currently four Nobel Laureates at Manchester University.

Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor at Manchester University, said: ’This is a wonderful example of a fundamental discovery based on scientific curiosity with major practical, social and economic benefits for society.’

Dr Mark Miodownik, head of the Materials Research Group, King’s College London, said: ‘The award of this Nobel Prize will bring a smile to the face of every scientist because it shows you can still get a Nobel Prize by mucking about in a lab.

‘Geim and Novoselov happened across graphene, a new material that has the potential to revolutionise electronics, by discovering they could pluck atomic layers of carbon from the lead of a pencil using nothing more sophisticated than sticky tape.

‘It turns out that anyone who has ever held a pencil could have discovered this amazing new material, but it was Geim and Novoselov who took the time to look carefully.

‘Another reason to recognise that British science is a special culture, admired throughout the world for its originality and genius, and needs to be nurtured, not cut, by the government if it wants to foster future technology and wealth in the UK.’