Materials have been so important to human life that ages have been named after them, such as the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age.
Now, a new generation of two-dimensional materials and their composites are opening up new possibilities for people, said Sir Konstantin Novoselov in his opening plenary lecture for the Global Young Scientists Summit 2020.
He noted that since he and fellow scientist Sir Andre Geim isolated graphene – a wonder material made up of a single layer of carbon atoms – and mapped its properties in 2004, researchers have been racing to develop other two-dimensional materials, mix and match them to achieve specific properties, and create applications for them.
“In general, we have tended to bet on only a few materials, such as silicon in electronics, steel in construction engineering and aluminium in aircraft. This has limited our invention. we can create new materials atom by atom or layer by layer, and assign properties and functions to the materials and layers. We can design new materials to achieve specific applications,” said Sir Konstantin. He urged scientists to think out of the box and make use of the expanding toolbox of materials: “We can create novel applications not possible before.”