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January 12th, 2007
Philip Kim of Columbia University, one of the Scientific American 50 awardees, led one of two independent research groups ( the other was led by Andre Geim of the University of Manchester ) that confirmed experimentally the electronic behavior of the novel material graphene. Graphene, a form of carbon, is essentially a single atomic layer of graphite in which the carbon atoms are arranged in a flat sheet of interconnected hexagons, in much the same fashion as "chicken wire" or hexagonal floor tile. Carbon nanotubes, tiny cylinders that are finding application in a variety of fields, are a tubular form of graphene.
It was thought previously that a stable two-dimensional material such as graphene could not exist in nature, according to Chagaan Baatar, an ONR program officer who specializes in nanoelectronics research. In 2004, Kim and Geim discovered that they could lift very thin flakes from ordinary graphite that were, indeed, sheets of graphene.
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