Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I looked up materials science because technically I do materials science research and I have yet to figure out what all the hoopla is about. (Don't tell my research prof... but I'm switching projects soon anyway :)

Turns out materials do a bunch of cool stuff. A lot of the things we're able to do in our lives, and apparently many kitchen conveniences, are only possible due to development of new materials.

Something I learned about beyond our reading for today was in the APS (American Physical Society) newsletter I received today. It discussed the development of graphene - a Nobel Prize was awarded to two men for "ground-breaking experiments" on graphene in 2004.

In case you are unaware of the properties of graphene, it is a sheet of carbon atoms one atom thick. It is incredible that such a material is able to be made. The article discusses how graphene "is both the thinnest material ever created while stronger than the world's strongest steel". How's that for a claim? How incredible!

In case you would like a real-life example to compare the strength to, I will quote the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' analogy: "In our one meter-square hammock tied between two trees you could place a weight of approximately 4 kg before it would break. It should thus be possible to make an almost invisible hammock out of graphene that could hold a cat without breaking."

That's absurd! This material, one atom thick, could be tied over three feet with no supports between and hold a cat. Now that's an achievement, to be sure.

There are lots of new materials out there which are highly useful and relevant even to everyday lives. I'm grateful for these developments and have gained a newfound appreciation for materials science research while studying for this day's lesson. Awesome!

1 comment:

  1. That is mind boggling! I'm still shocked at the size of my i-Pod, and the amount of music it holds. Can it be that Moore's law has application in materials as well? Also, hook me up with some of that graphene!