The Nobel Committee has awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to two Russian-born scientists, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, for their pioneering work on a form of carbon that conducts electricity.
The award is the second of six Nobel prizes to be awarded this week.
Announcing the selection, the Nobel Committee said Geim and Novoselov's "groundbreaking experiments" with the material graphene could have wide applications in computers and consumer electronics.
Graphene is a form of carbon just one atom thick, and is practically transparent, while at the same time being so dense that not even the smallest gas atom can pass through it.
The committee said in a citation that graphene's properties make it suitable for producing transparent touch screens, light panels, and possibly solar cells. It said in addition that graphene transistors are expected to become much faster than today's silicon transistors, and thus result in more efficient computers.
Professor Ingemar Lindstrom, chairman of the Nobel Prize committee on physics, was quoted by the Nobel website as praising both the scientific worth of the experiments and their potential commercial value.
"For me, it is a scientific, a physical breakthrough, being able to isolate a true, two-dimensional crystalline material, the thinnest material on Earth," Lindstrom said. "The second is that there are enough potential applications at this early stage, which makes me convinced that graphene will find many, many commercial applications or uses in the near future."
On the research side, the committee's citation said that graphene offers physicists the ability to study two-dimensional materials with unique properties and makes possible experiments that can reveal new aspects of the phenomena in quantum physics.
Andre Geim is a Dutch citizen, while Konstantin Novoselov is a dual British-Russian citizen. They both work at the University of Manchester in northern England.
Nobel prizes, created by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, were first handed out in 1901. The 50-member Nobel Committee decides on the winners by a majority vote.
The Nobel Committee is scheduled to announce its prizes in chemistry on October 6, literature on October 7, the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8, and economics on October 11.
The first of this year's awards, the prize for medicine, was awarded on October 4 to Robert Edwards of Britain for developing in vitro fertilization, a procedure that has helped millions of infertile couples to have children.
This year's laureates receive 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.49 million), a diploma, and a gold medal.
Together with Sir Michael Berry of Bristol University, Geim won the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize -- an American parody of the Nobel Prize -- for levitating a frog. His award of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 made him the first person to win an Ig Nobel followed by the real version.
written by Breffni O'Rourke based on agency reports