Science is fundamentally important for humanity, as much of what is around you started as a scientific project some time ago, and even without it being so, humans are genetically predetermined to be hungry for knowledge as we are a species that always wants to
know more, world-renowned physicist and materials scientist Professor Sir Konstantin Novoselov (UBD, pic below) said.
He said this during a Nobel Laureate Lecture and International Symposium at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) recently.
Professor Novoselov, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for his ground-breaking work on graphene, is a professor in the Material Science and Engineering Department at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Director of the Institute of Functional Intelligent Materials (I-FIM).
As one of the leading experts in his field, Professor Novoselov has made significant contributions to the study of two-dimensional materials and their applications in electronics and other industries.
With an impressive record of research and academic achievement, Professor Novoselov is respected figure in the scientific community, known for his innovative ideas and ability to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of materials science.
In an interview with the Bulletin, Professor Novoselov said that science is important for survival, and to say that physics is one of the most important sciences would be an overstatement as he sees more cross-disciplinary research surfacing these days such as physics in combination with chemistry or material sciences. He chose physics as his discipline because of his passion of dissecting phenomena into basic processes that can be understood better.
“You have rather simple, straightforward physical laws for those phenomena, and this method actually proves really powerful and it works fantastically well, and generally, I enjoy the fact that I can understand things about the world.
“I can see a phenomena and give you a reason – why the sky is blue and why the wind blows and so on.”
The fact that he likes working with his hands also became a factor into why he became an experimental physicist.
On his work that won him the Nobel Prize with Sir Andre Konstantin Geim, Professor Novoselov said it was a surprise to find that graphene was obtainable in general, as prior to that it was near impossible to get stable materials that are only one atom thick.
“That was really one of the biggest achievements. We proved that a two-dimensional material could exist and we could work with it.”
Graphene has a wide range of potential applications due to its unique properties.
One of the most promising areas is in electronics, where graphene’s high electrical conductivity and transparency make it a useful material for making faster, more energy-efficient transistors, sensors, and displays. Graphene is also being researched for its potential in energy storage, as it has high surface area and can store large amounts of energy in small volumes.
Professor Novoselov added, “However, these days we are going beyond graphene and figuring out other two-dimensional materials that are also one atom thick, but have very different properties.”
He said that graphene is very conductive, whether as insulators, magnets, super conductors and the like, and by exploring the family of this material, they have expanded both their knowledge in terms of physics and material science, as well as the range of possible applications.
“Doing science is not always cheap, and these days you really need to invest quite a lot.
“Science is very exciting and there are still lots of unknowns, but the rate of the discovery just goes higher and higher, and faster and faster, so that means investments on sciences need to become on the higher level.”
Professor Novoselov also noted the number of research he finds original and interesting coming out from Brunei in his area, highlighting that UBD is also very well known in other areas such as genomics and biology. “There is a culture of research here and I think with the right support, it can grow and get on a higher level,” he said.
He added that NUS has started a new centre, I-FIM, and they have started to try and create new materials with predetermined properties.
“We use a lot of artificial intelligence of solve inverse problem, where we start from the properties we want from the material, and then design material to achieve those properties.
“That’s very relevant for many different applications such as in catalysts which will be very relevant for the petrochemical industry.”
With that, both higher education institutions decided to exchange knowledge and see how they can push for more collaboration in this area.
“I think science is really an exciting field. You have freedom of research and to explore new directions, which is great. But then, the most important science is really to be passionate.”
He added that what is important is to find an individual’s own field and what they are passionate about, and there is nothing wrong with being passionate about science or other fields such as engineering, arts or business.
“Find what you’re passionate about and just stay true to your dream. Passion is definitely the key to gaining success in many areas.”