Sir Andre Geim
2010 Nobel Prize in Physics
From introducing the concept of Friday night experiments to co-discovering graphene, Sir Andre Geim is a prolific physicist with many ‘firsts’. He is also the only recipient of both the Nobel Prize and the Ig Nobel Prize, the latter of which he accepted in 2000 for using magnetism to levitate frogs. When asked about the motivation behind his scientific pursuits, Sir Andre highlights the necessity of collaboration and curiosity to advance knowledge and make discoveries.
Sir Andre has been with the University of Manchester since 2001, and is currently the Regius Professor and Royal Society Research Professor at the university’s National Graphene Institute. His breakthrough with graphene came about during one of his many famous Friday night experiments with his research partner, Sir Konstantin Novoselov. Still practised to this day at the university, these sessions involve ‘amateur’ research that is driven by pure interest. While not all pursuits during these sessions have led to groundbreaking discoveries like graphene, Sir Andre never considers them fruitless. He believes they keep science interesting and satiate his ceaselessly curious mind, particularly when he gains new insights from working with individuals of different expertise.
For their collaborative work on graphene, Sir Andre and Sir Konstantin were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. According to the Nobel Prize committee, “A material consisting of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice and only one-atom thick was long considered a purely theoretical construction. They produced this material and mapped its properties. With graphene, they have written themselves into the annals of science.”
Both scientists have continued their collaboration to uncover the astonishing qualities of graphene. A flexible material that is much stronger than steel and a fantastic conductor of electricity and heat, graphene has found wide applicability, including making superfast computer chips and creating quantum dots to deliver medical drugs more effectively.
For his contributions to science, Sir Andre has received multiple awards in addition to the Nobel Prize, including the 2011 Niels Bohr Medal, the 2013 Copley Medal and the 2016 Carbon Medal. He was knighted in the Netherlands in 2010 and in the United Kingdom in 2012.
Offering advice to up-and-coming researchers, Sir Andre encourages them to pursue research that satisfies not only their personal curiosity but also that of the human race—research should be both impactful and purposeful. He also believes young researchers should be more adventurous in exploring novel areas of research to stand out in the competitive fields of science.