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Graphene: Fast, Strong, Cheap, and Impossible to Use

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In Last Week’s New Yorker, John Colapinto’s story explored the science behind graphene, a substance only one atom thick:

Labs around the world began studies using Geim’s Scotch-tape technique, and researchers identified other properties of graphene. Although it was the thinnest material in the known universe, it was a hundred and fifty times stronger than an equivalent weight of steel—indeed, the strongest material ever measured. It was as pliable as rubber and could stretch to a hundred and twenty per cent of its length. Research by Philip Kim, then at Columbia University, determined that graphene was even more electrically conductive than previously shown. Kim suspended graphene in a vacuum, where no other material could slow the movement of its subatomic particles, and showed that it had a “mobility”—the speed at which an electrical charge flows across a semiconductor—of up to two hundred and fifty times that of silicon.

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