Konstantin Novoselov gives lecture on graphene at the IOP

29 November 2013

Graphene and its remarkable properties and potential were discussed by distinguished physicist Prof. Sir Konstantin Novoselov in a lecture at the IOP in London on 28 November. He and Prof. Sir Andre Geim won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 for their work on the two-dimensional material at the University of Manchester.

Graphite, the more familiar 3-D form of carbon, had been known and used for more than 500 years, but graphene in a free form was only a theoretical construct until he and Prof. Geim isolated single layers of the material in 2004, he said. It was found to be the thinnest imaginable material, the strongest ever measured, the most stretchable, the stiffest and the most impermeable, with extremely high thermal and electrical conductivity, he noted. The percentage of light absorbed by one layer of graphene was exactly π multiplied by the fine structure constant, he said.

There were many potential uses in transistors, solar cells and other electronic devices, but Prof. Novoselov believed these would be surpassed by biological applications. It was already being used to support the study of biomolecules, and there were further possibilities in healthcare and medicine, he said.

“We can allow our imaginations to go wild but at the same time we have to be realistic about what we can produce,” he said. “I am quite positive – I know for sure that it is going to be used, but how widely is hard to predict.”

In questions following the talk, he was asked whether graphene degrades over time. It was quite stable, he said, and samples several years old still retained their properties. Graphene would absorb water from the air but this could be removed, and it was still quite robust after exposure to moisture and ultra-violet light.

Asked about the future direction of his research, Prof. Novoselov said he was “currently very excited” about heterostructures – materials in which layers of graphene are combined with other constituents for particular uses, and he would like to do further work on Cooper pairs.

Thanking him for his lecture, the IOP’s chief executive, Prof. Paul Hardaker, presented Prof. Novoselov with one of the Institute’s new posters, which includes a representation of his and Prof. Geim’s graphene research.

  • The lecture was sponsored by Oxford Instruments. You can view a recording of it below.

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