AKA Andre Konstantinovich Geim
Birthplace: Sochi, Russia
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: Super-thin carbon physics
Dutch physicist Andre Geim shared the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics with his colleague, Konstantin Novoselov, for their studies revealing the properties of graphene, an almost unfathomably strong yet thin form of carbon — one atom in width — packed extremely densely into a honeycomb crystal lattice. Graphene is so thin that it is almost completely invisible to the naked eye, but counter-intuitively, it is also among the strongest materials yet discovered. It is an extremely efficient conductor of electricity, making it potentially invaluable in applications ranging from light panels to touch screens and integrated circuitry.
Geim has studied mesoscopic superconductivity, nano-optics, and the detection of sub-nanometer changes in the position of individual domain walls. He was the inventor of gecko tape, a super-strong adhesive material capable of gripping a load in one direction but releasing its grip when the direction is reversed, which uses techniques similar to the natural mechanisms that underlie the amazing climbing ability of geckos. He won the Ig Nobel Prize (a satirical award for outlandish-sounding scientific work) in 2000 for research which used magnetism to levitate a living frog, and he is the first scientist to be both an Ig Nobel and Nobel laureate.
Geim, who teaches at the University of Manchester, said the Nobel honor was shocking, adding that he was going to go to work and "muddle on as before", and that he hoped he would not be among the Nobel laureates who "stop doing anything for the rest of their life."
He has also decided not to patent the process for making graphene, and tells an interesting story to explain why he and his team decided not to bother: "We considered patenting; we prepared a patent and it was nearly filed. Then I had an interaction with a big, multinational electronics company. I approached a guy at a conference and said, 'We've got this patent coming up, would you be interested in sponsoring it over the years?' It's quite expensive to keep a patent alive for 20 years. The guy told me, 'We are looking at graphene, and it might have a future in the long term. If after ten years we find it's really as good as it promises, we will put a hundred patent lawyers on it to write a hundred patents a day, and you will spend the rest of your life, and the gross domestic product of your little island, suing us.' That's a direct quote."
University: MS Physics, Moscow Physical-Technical Institute (1982)
University: PhD Physics, Institute of Solid State Physics, Chernogolovka, Russia (1987)
Scholar: Institute for Microelectronics Technology, Chernogolovka, Russia (1987-89)
Fellow: University of Nottingham (1990-94, concurrent)
Fellow: University of Bath (1990-94, concurrent)
Fellow: University of Copenhagen (1990-94, concurrent)
Teacher: Physics, Radboud University Nijmegen (1994-2001)
Professor: Physics, University of Manchester (2001-07)
Administrator: Centre for Mesoscience & Nanotechnology, University of Manchester (2002-)
Fellow: EPSRC Senior Research Fellow, University of Manchester (2007-10)
Professor: Langworthy Professor of Physics, University of Manchester (2007-)
Ig Nobel Prize 2000 (with Michael Berry)
Royal Society Brian Mercer Award 2006
IOP Sir Nevill Mott Medal and Prize 2007
Körber European Science Award 2009
NAS John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science 2010
Hughes Medal 2010
Nobel Prize for Physics 2010 (with Konstantin Novoselov)
Institute of Physics (U.K.) 2006
Royal Society 2007
Russian Academy of Sciences
Singapore Institute of Physics Foreign Member, 2006
Author of books:
Investigation of the Barkhausen Effect using Ballistic Hall Magnetometry (2006, with David Adam Christian)
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