For nanotechnology watchers who are experiencing nanotube fatigue, Scientific American recaps a newer nanotech material capturing the imagination:
Called graphene, it is essentially a nanotube unrolled—a single layer of atoms arranged like a honeycomb. The difference may sound cosmetic, but when the goal is manipulating things that are a few atoms thick, going from tube to sheet makes a big difference.
Although graphene, too, faces many obstacles on the road to applications, its combination of exotic physics and high-tech potential is attracting scores of researchers. “For the moment there is at least a big hope … that graphene might be the future,” says physicist Andre Geim of the University of Manchester in England, who first isolated it in 2004.
Carbon, in all its forms, is expected to play an increasing role as nanotechnology advances, especially the 3D version (diamond and diamondoid). —Christine