Two Russian-born scientists shared the Nobel Prize in Physics yesterday for “groundbreaking experiments” with the thinnest, strongest material known to mankind — a carbon vital for the creation of faster computers and transparent touch screens.
Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, two professors at the University of Manchester in Britain, demonstrated the exceptional properties of graphene, a form of carbon that is only one atom thick, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
Experiments with graphene could lead to the development of new superstrong materials and innovative electronics, the academy said in announcing the 10 million kronor (US$1.5 million) award.
“Graphene transistors are predicted to be substantially faster than today’s silicon transistors and result in more efficient computers,” the academy said in the citation. “Since it is practically transparent and a good conductor, graphene is suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels and maybe even solar cells.”
Geim, 51, is a Dutch national, while Novoselov, 36, holds British and Russian citizenship. Both are natives of Russia and started their careers in physics there.
Novoselov is among the youngest winners of a prize that normally goes to scientists with decades of experience. The youngest Nobel laureate to date is Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 when he shared the physics award with his father William Bragg in 1915.
In a telephone interview with reporters in Stockholm, Geim said he was shocked by the announcement, but planned to go to work as usual yesterday.
He said he wasn’t among the Nobel Prize winners who “stop doing anything for the rest of their life.”
Geim last year won the prestigious Korber European Science Award for his discovery of two-dimensional crystals made of carbon atoms, particularly graphene, which “has the potential to revolutionize the world of microelectronics,” the University of Manchester said.
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