Go back to article: From 2D to 3D: the story of graphene in objects

Research publication

Figure 9

Front cover of Science research journal

Research paper published in Science journal, featuring K S Novoselov et al, 2004, ‘Electric Field Effect in Atomically Thin Carbon Film’, Science, 306, pp 666–669. This paper told the world about graphene. It is one of the most cited journal publications of all time. On loan from Professor Andre Geim

To further support the exhibition narrative that science is a process and not an end-point, we decided to include Geim’s own copy of Science in which the graphene breakthrough was first published. There is a story behind the publication of this article which demonstrates that the process of getting scientific research published in a glossy high-profile journal is intensive and laborious. When the paper was first submitted to Nature, it was rejected because according to one referee it did ‘not constitute a sufficient scientific advance’. However, eventually, after much hard work, the article was published in Science (Geim, 2010, p 84). This shows that even Nobel Prize-winning science can require much time and dedication to achieve recognition.

This paper is also interesting because along with quotes from Geim and Novoselov, it evokes the sense of excitement and urgency around the race with other scientists to prove that they had managed to isolate a single atomic layer of carbon atoms. Although graphene was not proven to have been successfully isolated before the 2004 paper, Geim explains that ‘sporadic attempts to study it can be traced back to 1859’ (Brodie, 1859, quoted in Geim, 2010, p 106). Nonetheless, the real breakthrough came when the isolation using sticky tape was first published in this peer reviewed publication when Novoselov et al detailed their observations of the electrical properties of graphene which garnered international attention and triggered what Andre calls the graphene ‘Gold Rush’: ‘Our Science paper offered the first glimpse of graphene in its new avatar as a high quality 2D electronic system and beyond’ (Geim, 2010, p 89).

The lab book, the early graphene samples, and the published research work together to demonstrate the fact that collaboration, hard work and perseverance are all essential in getting an experimental idea tested and published. While the science detail is difficult to understand, these personal qualities and approaches are something that visitors can relate to, making the science content in the exhibition more meaningful and engaging.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/181004/012