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Konstantin Novoselov

AKA Konstantin S. Novoselov

Born: Aug-1974
Birthplace: Nizhny Tagil, Russia

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Russia
Executive summary: Super-thin carbon physics

Russian-British physicist Konstantin Novoselov studied mesoscopic physics, a sub-discipline of condensed matter physics, under Andre Geim, and conducted post-doctoral research with Geim at the University of Manchester. Novoselov and Geim won the Nobel Prize in 2010, sharing the honor and 10 million Swedish kronor (about $1.5M) for their investigations of graphene, a monolayer of carbon atoms.

Graphene is the first member of a new class of materials now referred to as two-dimensional atomic crystals, which can be briefly described as individual atomic planes "pulled out" of bulk three-dimensional crystals. Graphene is the thinnest known material in the world — three million layers of graphene over graphene would be one millimeter in height — but it may also be the strongest material known to man, and among the most efficient conductors of electricity. It is expected to have great impact in coming electronics developments, including the next generation of integrated circuits, the microchips holding huge numbers of tiny transistors fundamental to modern electronics and telecommunications.

Geim and Novoselov used surprisingly low-tech equipment to begin their work, peeling thin flakes of graphene from larger chunks of graphite — basically, pencil lead — using ordinary adhesive tape. They then sliced these flakes into their smallest components, analyzed the substance's properties, and reported their findings in a landmark paper, published in Science in 2004.

To trigger innovation in their lab, Geim and Novoselov ask their students to dedicate ten percent of their time to what they call their "Friday evening" sessions — experiments into, as Novoselov says, "crazy things that probably won’t pan out at all". From these brainstorming sessions they developed their noted "frog levitation", using magnetism to lift reptiles into the air, and gecko tape, super-strong adhesive tape based on the odd biomechanism that allows geckos to climb using adhesive tips on the microscopic hairs of their toes. Novoselov has said that their team's Nobel Prizewinning research on graphene began as an idea in one of these free-wheeling bull sessions.

    University: MS Physics, Moscow Physical-Technical University (1997)
    University: PhD Physics, Radboud University Nijmegen (2001)
    Scholar: University of Manchester (2001-)

    Europhysics Prize 2008
    Nobel Prize for Physics 2010 (with Andre Geim)
    Royal Society
    Russian Ancestry
    Naturalized UK Citizen

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