The discovery of Graphene

Since 1859, many scientists were looking for graphite and finally in 1916 the structure of graphite was clarified. While they were examining graphite, they found some unexpected behavior in extremely thin layers of graphite and then they wanted to make it thinner and thinner down to one atomic layer to study physical and electrical behavior these thin layers. The theory of one atomic layer graphite (Graphene) was laid out for the first time in 1947 by P. R. Wallace. The name Graphene was mentioned for the first time in 1987 .

The story and research continued, but no one could make one atomic layer of Graphene, even though very complicated experiments were carried out. It took until 2004, when two scientists who had emigrated from Russia, Andrei Geim and Kostya Novoselov, produced Graphene at the physics department of the University of Manchester. Andre and Kostya frequently did their ‘Friday night experiments’ and they were trying out new experiments which were not necessarily linked to their daily research subject. One Friday, they were able to make Graphene flakes with the help of sticky Scotch tape from a lump of graphite. The experiment was simple; they had a lump of graphite and a normal sticky Scotch tape. They separated the graphite fragments over and over again by scotch tape till they managed to isolate flakes which were just one atom thick Graphene. Then they tested the material under a microscope and investigate its properties.

They published their primary findings in 2003, but their paper was rejected twice. Nobody believed that a one-atom thick material could be stable in the air. After submitting to different journals, finally their paper was published in Science Journal in 2004. That paper became well-known and groups from all around the world sent scientists and students to Manchester university to learn how to make Graphene.

Source:  Holger Motzkau, Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0)
Sir Kostya Novoselov and Sir Andre Geim.
Source: Holger Motzkau, Wikimedia Commons (cc-by-sa-3.0)

They both received several awards for their new research on Graphene and finally six years after, Andre and Kostya got the Nobel Prize of 2010 in physics for this work. After they received the award, they continued to discover different potential applications of Graphene. The cool thing is that in New Year 2012 they were both knighted for their services to science. Now they are called Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov 🙂

Video: the simple show explains discovery of Graphene

Video: 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics Announcement

About Sarah Riazimehr

Sarah Riazimehr is pursuing her PhD under the supervision of Prof. Max Lemme in the Department of Elektrotechnische Bauelemente at the RWTH Aachen. Her current research interests focus on understanding the electrical and optical properties of graphene and the other 2D materials for technological applications, in particular 2D based photodetectors.

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