The Nobel Prize in Physics 2010 has just been awarded jointly to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”
Graphene, aka “atomic level chicken wire” are carbon atoms packed into a 2D lattice. It’s not used to keep molecular chickens in their rightful place, but if it was it would be hardcore. The stuff is one of the strongest materials ever tested, 200 times the strength of steel.
It also has great potential in creating new kinds of chips and transistors, possibly faster than silicon. It’s also a great sensor, either for single molecule gas detection or for disease markers.
Sheets of graphene could help sequence DNA ridiculously fast, and they prevent the growth of bacteria. They could be used as hygienic covers for food. Plenty more potential applications can be found on Wikipedia. It’s exciting stuff.
Andre Geim is also known for his work on gecko tape – a super strong adhesive that mimics gecko’s feet and could one day let humans climb walls like a gecko.