Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the prize “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”, according to the citation from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
“I’m shocked,” said the 36-year-old Novoselov when informed over the phone by the TT news agency that he had just won the Nobel Prize.
He explained that he never expected to win the Nobel, although people have told him in the past that it was a possibility.
“But I’ve learned not to listen to speculation,” Novoselov said.
Nevertheless, he said he plans to make the journey to Stockholm “if I’m invited”.
Novoselov also admitted that his Tuesday, which he expected to spend explaining measurements to some guest researchers, was going to be somewhat different than he had planned.
“This is totally crazy,” he said.
“Now I have to apologize to them and explain that we’re going to be busy all day.”
Measuring only one-atom thick, graphene is a completely new material considered both the thinnest and strongest ever created.
It conducts electricity as well as copper and conducts heat better than any other known material. Graphene is also extremely dense even though it is nearly completely transparent.
Its combination of unique properties allows for new experiments in the study of phenomena in quantum physics. In addition, graphene opens the door to a wide array of practical applications that could revolutionize electronics, computers, and other materials.
Transistors made of graphene are projected to be much faster than today’s silicone transistors, allowing for much faster computers. It may also expand the potential of touch screens and possibly even solar cells due to its transparency and conductive qualities.
Graphene may be also mixed with plastics to allow them to conduct electricity, and to make them stronger while remaining thin, elastic, and lightweight.
Graphene-based composites thus may be found in the satellites, airplanes, and cars of the future, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
A naturalized Dutch national born in Russia in 1958, Geim received his PhD from the Institute of Solid State Physics run by the Russian Academy of Sciences in Chernogolovka.
He is currently the Director of Manchester Centre for Meso-science & Nanotechnology and the Langworthy Professor of Physics, and the Royal Society 2010 Anniversary Research Professor at the University of Manchester.
Novoselov was also born in Russia, in 1974, and holds both British and Russian citizenship. He received his PhD in 2004 from Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands while studying under Geim.
He is currently Professor and Royal Society Research Fellow at the University of Manchester.