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Thinnest Material

April 9, 2007

A new material is so thin it makes tissue paper look like a brick.


Eliminating the third dimension. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A few years ago, scientists created the thinnest material possible: a coating that’s only one atom thick. It’s called graphene, a form of graphite, the so-called "lead" in a pencil. Now, two teams of researchers have created free-standing sheets of graphene, which even recently was thought impossible. Physicist Andre Geim of Manchester University in England says that despite its thinness, graphene is remarkably strong and stable.

ANDRE GEIM (Manchester University, U.K.):
To break bonds in graphene, it requires a stronger force than in the case of diamonds. So that’s the toughest and at the same time, the lightest membrane.

That means sheets of graphene could be used in many high-tech applications, including platforms for single molecules, filters for very light gases, and transistors for computer chips.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.