Nope…even thinner than that

Marketplace Staff Mar 1, 2007


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: It might sound like science fiction but it’s actually a fact of science: graphene. Remember that name because you’ll be hearing it a lot. Scientists say it’s the thinnest material in the world and could revolutionize computer and medical research. Lewis Smith is a science reporter for the Times of London. He wrote an article about graphene for today’s edition. Lewis what is graphene?

LEWIS SMITH: Well it’s composed of carbon atoms. It’s been described as a tiny-scale chicken wire that’s 200,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair. That gives you an idea of the scale.

THOMAS: When and how was graphene discovered?

SMITH: It was discovered two or three years ago. This development takes it forward. Until now, they’ve been unable to make it freestanding.

THOMAS: I know that some theorists were skeptical that this could ever be effectively harnessed. What are some of the ways that scientists believe now that graphene will be used?

SMITH: They think its primary uses are going to be in computers and for medical research. In computers, it’s being put forward as a possible replacement for silicon. It conducts very well indeed so it’s more efficient than silicon. That means that our computers should be more powerful.

THOMAS: How soon before graphene is used in computers and medical devices on the market?

SMITH: That I imagine is anybody’s guess. I would imagine we’re looking at a minimum of a few years.

THOMAS: Thanks for your time.

SMITH: No problem at all.

THOMAS: Lewis Smith, science reporter for the Times of London.

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