Inventive materials: graphene

Even the most simple methods can produce astonishing results

After experimenting with graphite – the type you find in pencil lead – and everyday sellotape, physicists announced their discovery of a new material, graphene. This extremely basic apparatus led Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, the discoverers of graphene, to a potentially revolutionary material.

Graphite is made up of layers of carbon atoms arranged into hexagons. In 2004, Geim and Novoselov successfully isolated a single layer of graphite, one carbon atom thick, and named it graphene. It has a range of exciting properties: it can carry electricity at a high speed and conduct heat, and it’s also extremely strong (ten times stronger than steel) and completely impermeable. Graphene’s remarkable properties make it a major target to electronic companies looking to make smaller and more powerful machines.

Lead image:

CORE-Materials/Flickr CC BY

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Nanoscience’ in June 2005 and reviewed and updated in August 2014.

Biotechnology and engineering
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development