September 8th, 2014 by Tina Casey Penn State professor Thomas E. Mallouk is $10 richer and the world is one step closer to realizing the dream of mass-producing high grade synthetic graphene, a “wonder material” only one atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel. Mallouk’s Penn State team came up with the new material after he bet research associate Nina Kovtyukhova $100 against $10 that she could come up with a new way to split a nanoscale sheet of graphene away from graphite.
Graphene consists of a lattice of carbon atoms, which also means that it could be incredibly cheap. The problem is that sheets of graphene don’t exist in nature, so you have to make them. Also keep in mind that diamonds are made of carbon and they don’t come cheap, either.