An Office of Naval Research (ONR) grantee has been awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for research into the properties of a two-dimensional material that could one day replace computer chips.
Professor Andre Geim, whose work is currently funded by ONR, and his colleague, Professor Kostya Novoselov, both of the University of Manchester, England, were recognized Oct 5. for their contribution to graphene, the first truly two-dimensional material, consisting of a single atomic, layer-thick carbon crystal.
"It is an honor for Navy science and technology to be associated with Nobel-caliber scientists," said Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr. "This underscores the quality of our scientists and also ONR's deep commitment to encouraging innovation and accepting risks in basic and applied research that will one day pay off for Sailors and Marines."
ONR started supporting Geim's work in 2007 under the Naval International Cooperative Program (NICOP), which is jointly administered by ONR headquarters and the Navy's international scientific brain trust, ONR Global, said Chagaan Baatar, ONR program officer for nanoelectronics.
"ONR Global is our eye on the world for S&T;," Carr said.
The potential applications for the carbon material are many, given its unique properties. For example, ONR recently awarded three Multidisciplinary University Initiative (MURI) grants to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Maryland and University of California, Berkeley, to exploit graphene's distinct electrical features that could improve silicon chips or even render them obsolete.
The ultimate vision for the Navy is to use the novel material to make ultra-fast, very low power micro-computer chips to achieve and sustain information superiority through rapid and accurate decision-making in future conflicts.
The Nobel Prize, Baatar noted, serves as a small validation of the research direction he picked early on and the people behind it. For nearly a decade, Baatar has championed two major research initiatives as part of his nanoelectronics program portfolio: One is graphene electronics and the other in structural DNA nanotechnology, both of which have been recognized with major awards this year.
"The Nobel Prize is for research done in 2004 and although graphene was not discovered under ONR sponsorship, what we did was recognize graphene's potential and quickly launched programs to invest in and nurture the promising field," Baatar said.
To date, ONR has sponsored the Nobel Prize-winning research of nearly 60 scientists in the field of physics, chemistry, medicine and economics.
For a list of ONR Nobel Prize winners, visit http://www.onr.navy.mil