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Graphite was discovered in the early 1500's in Borrowdale in the Cumberland Mountains in England. This metallic-like substance was mistakenly held for a lead ore and its first application served as a writing contriviance known until nowadays as a “lead pencil”. Graphite is comprised of nano dimensioned, irregular shaped and sized chunks of graphene. The common usage of graphite was restricted mainly to heat resistant applications and for lubrication purposes. Centuries were to pass until its true value and properites were discovered.

Hanns Peter Boehm first coined the term graphene in 1962 as a combination of graphite and the suffix –ene, describing a single-layer carbon foil. Many stacked graphene chunks comprise crystalline or flake forms of graphite; they are, so to say, the structural element of graphene and other carbon allotropes. There were several others who had toyed about with graphite but never proceeded further than skin deep.

It was Andre Geim and his assistant Konstantin Novoselov who intensified their combined efforts in 2004 to finally expose the true nature of graphene. In 2010, they were awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for their overwhelming discovery. The discovery of graphene has provided an unparalleled burst in many technical disciplines. This material had been before the very eyes of humanity for a long, long time but was never recognized for what it really is because no one had bothered to take a closer look.

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Category: Science