Welcome to the wonderful world of graphene, the thinnest substance known to science.
In 2003, Russian physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov found a way to produce graphene - the thinnest substance in the world - by using sticky tape to separate an atom-thick layer from a block of graphite.
Their efforts would win the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics, and now the applications of graphene and other 'two-dimensional' substances form a worldwide industry. Graphene is far stronger than steel, a far better conductor than any metal, and able to act as a molecular sieve to purify water. Electronic components made from graphene are a fraction the size of silicon microchips and can be both flexible and transparent, making it possible to build electronics into clothing, produce solar cells to fit any surface, or even create invisible temporary tattoos that monitor your health.
Ultra-thin materials give us the next big step forward since the transistor revolutionised electronics. Get ready for the graphene revolution.
About the Author
Brian Clegg's most recent books are The Reality Frame (Icon, 2017) and What Colour is the Sun? (Icon, 2016). His Dice World and A Brief History of Infinity were both longlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books. He has also authored Big Data and Gravitational Waves for the Hot Science series, and has written for Nature, BBC Focus, Physics World, The Times and The Observer.
Table of Contents
1 The sticky tape solution 1
2 The essence of matter 19
3 Quantum reality 45
4 Like nothing we've seen before 69
5 Other flatties 103
6 The ultrathin world 115
Further reading 155