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Two scientists give an enthusiastic, layperson's overview of a new supermaterial now in development that could transform many features of daily life, from creating new conveniences to improving health and safety.
What if you discovered an infinitesimally thin material capable of conducting electricity, able to suspend millions of times its own weight, and yet porous enough to filter the murkiest water? And what if this incredible substance is created from the same element that fills the common pencil? That's graphene--a flat, two-dimensional, carbon-based molecule with a single sheet measuring only one atom thick.
In this layperson's introduction to this revolutionary substance, a physicist and a chemist explain how graphene was developed, discuss the problems in scaling up production for large-scale commercial use, and forecast the potentially transformative effects of incorporating graphene into everyday life. Recent research developments include adding graphene to Silly Putty to make extremely sensitive and malleable medical sensors and compressing and fusing flakes of graphene to create a three-dimensional material that's ten times stronger than steel.
This widely adaptable substance promises to change the way we interact with smartphones, laptops, information storage, and even condoms. It may also enable significant improvements to air purification, water filtration technologies, and drug delivery.
This entertaining and widely accessible book offers a fascinating look into one of the most exciting developments in materials science in recent decades.
About the Author
Les Johnson is a physicist and the author of numerous popular science and science fiction books. He is also the Senior Technical Adviser for NASA's Advanced Concepts Office at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where he serves as the Principal Investigator for the Near Earth Asteroid Scout solar sail mission that will launch in 2018. While at NASA he has managed the Interstellar Propulsion Research Project, the In-Space Propulsion Technology Program, and the Science Programs & Projects Office. He has thrice received NASA's Exceptional Achievement Medal, and holds four space technology patents.
Joseph E. Meany, PhD, is a laboratory consultant and is on the organizing committee of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Oak Ridge, TN. Meany's research has focused on the development and manufacture of conductive carbon-based molecules in electrical circuits, a quickly developing subfield within nanotechnology. He has written articles for Baen Books and has appeared as a contributor in Nature Chemistry and Chemical and Engineering News.
“With accessible anecdotes and reasoned speculation, Johnson and Meany’s story of graphene will delight popular-science fans.”
“Graphene is a rarity: a book about a complex scientific subject that not only informs and enlightens but also entertains the reader. I came out of this with a new appreciation for something I’d known little about before but now realize is future-shaping. Read this book and behold a miracle of tomorrow.”
—Allen Steele, Hugo and Heinlein Award–winning science fiction author
“Purely carbon, graphene is a remarkable material whose properties amaze us and whose applications span all of human activity—from nanotechnology to interstellar flight—maybe even to the evolution of humans. This book delves into the who, what, where, when, why, and how of graphene, with interesting stories and facts, suggesting possibilities that Johnson and Meany say may change the world. With a mix of physics, engineering, history, and culture, there is much to learn as well as to be entertained by here.”
—Dr. Louis Friedman, cofounder and executive director emeritus, the Planetary Society
“Graphene is an enjoyable tour of the past, present, and future of the simplest form of carbon. It’s a balanced exploration of the promises of graphene for technology, engineering, and health, along with the risks and challenges. With plenty of historical anecdotes, scientific primers, and forward-thinking speculation, the authors place graphene and graphene-like materials into familiar contexts.”
—Matthew R. Francis, physicist and science writer, BowlerHatScience.org
“An enjoyable ride through the history and science of carbon materials, with graphene as the focus of a larger discussion of business, chemical periodicity, unique molecules, and a science-driven future. The authors do a wonderful job describing the promise, problems, pitfalls, and possibilities that likely await graphene—this newest entry into the vibrant world of material science.”
—Monty Fetterolf, Professor of Chemistry and Endowed Chair, University of South Carolina Aiken