6 Oct 2010

At was prompted by the award of the Physics Nobel Prize this year to Geim and Novoselov for their work on graphene. Nigel Calder then lets rip into the field of 'buckyballs' and 'nanotubes' which is all about the potential of carbon as a superconductor resistant to the flow of electric currents. This is related to an earlier post he had on  carbon - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in the cosmos, and their relevance to the origin of life. We are at the threshold of a new molecular technology that is carbon based and capable of converging with nano-technology - engineering on an atomic scale, manoevring things atom by atom. Incredible science.

On top of this came the discovery of graphene (2004) by Geim and Novoselov, the thinnest material ever available, transparent to light yet impervious to any gas, it is extremely strong and a brilliant conductor of heat and electricity. By 2009 graphene sheets 7m wide were being manufactured and their use seems boundless, replacing metal in such things as cars, aeroplanes and spacecraft. Is the metal age obsolete?