Carbon and chips

Andre Geim of the University of Manchester and his colleagues reckon that a novel form of graphite, made by separating out the carbon allotrope's grapheme layers, could form the basis of a new generation of microelectronic devices. Carbon nanotubes are essentially curled up graphene layers, but Geim believes the secret to using graphene is not to roll it up but to lay it out flat. In this form grapheme behaves more like a strange kind of metal than a carbon sheet and its properties are dictated by quantum mechanics. As such, Geim's team has already fashioned graphene sheets into a so-called spin valve. A device that exploits both the charge and the spin of an electron. Such a spintronic valve could be used as a filter for controlling electron flow.