Tiny Tech #19: Graphene — Tale of the Tape

Today from the world of Tiny Tech:

Remember when you were a kid, drawing all over your desk with your trusty number 2 pencil and then trying to rub off the black graphite marks with your hands?  Well, if you had tried to clean your blackened fingers with sticky tape, you might have been on your way to scientific glory.  Two researchers in England used graphite and tape to win the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.  That’s right.  I bet you feel silly.

The two scientists took a piece of graphite, which is made of sheets of carbon atoms, and used sticky tape to lift off the topmost layer.  Such layers, only one atom thick, are a new form of carbon called graphene.  Graphene has amazing properties: it is as flexible as an eraser, transparent as glass, more conductive than copper, and stronger than diamond. The electrons in graphene can also travel 100 times faster than they can in silicon, the main element in every computer chip.  This property may allow researchers to make electronic devices faster than they are today.

So, we all know that sticky tape has all sorts of uses, but who knew you could use it to win a Nobel prize? 

Tiny Tech is made possible by the National Science Foundation and WUFT.  To learn more about Tiny Tech, go to tinytechradio.org.

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