MRS Bulletin


Graphene: Materially Better Carbon

Michael S. Fuhrer, Chun Ning Lau and Allan H. MacDonald


Graphene, a single atom–thick plane of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice, has captivated the attention of physicists, materials scientists, and engineers alike over the five years following its experimental isolation. Graphene is a fundamentally new type of electronic material whose electrons are strictly confined to a two-dimensional plane and exhibit properties akin to those of ultrarelativistic particles. Graphene's two-dimensional form suggests compatibility with conventional wafer processing technology. Extraordinary physical properties, including exceedingly high charge carrier mobility, current-carrying capacity, mechanical strength, and thermal conductivity, make it an enticing candidate for new electronic technologies both within and beyond complementary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS). Immediate graphene applications include high-speed analog electronics and highly conductive, flexible, transparent thin films for displays and optoelectronics. Currently, much graphene research is focused on generating and tuning a bandgap and on novel device structures that exploit graphene's extraordinary electrical, optical, and mechanical properties.

Michael S. Fuhrer can be reached at the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-4111, USA; and e-mail

Fuhrer joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 2000, and is now a professor of physics and director of the Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials. He received a BS degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990 and a PhD degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998. Fuhrer's research involves the physics of electronic devices constructed of nanoscale components, for example carbon nanotubes, novel two-dimensional electronic nanostructures, or individual organometallic molecules.

Chun Ning Lau can be reached at the Department of Physics, University of California, Riverside, CA 91765, USA; and e-mail

Lau is an associate professor of physics at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). She received her BA degree from the University of Chicago and her PhD degree from Harvard University. Before joining UCR in 2004 as an assistant professor, Lau was a research associate at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, CA. Her research interests center on the thermal, electrical, and mechanical properties of carbon nanomaterials. Lau's honors include the National Science Foundation's CAREER award and the 2008 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Allan H. MacDonald can be reached at the Department of Physics, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1600, Austin, TX 78712-0264, USA; and e-mail

MacDonald received his PhD in physics from the University of Toronto in 1978. He was a member of the research staff of the National Research Council of Canada from 1978 to 1987 and has taught at Indiana University (1987 to 2000) and the University of Texas at Austin (2000 to present), where he now holds the Sid W. Richardson Chair in Physics. He has contributed to research on electronic structure theory, the quantum Hall effect, magnetism, and superconductivity.