From tinkering on the fringes to Nobel glory

Andre Geim shared the Nobel prize in physics in 2010 for his co-discovery of graphene. He is director of the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience & Nanotechnology at the University of Manchester

What makes a good day for you?

There are two things. The first is a good result, one which you sort of expected but that never previously came through. A really great result is always unexpected, and you never believe it. But there is this second-tier result, where you have a marginal expectation and something happens and you feel lucky. The second is when you get a journal paper accepted. It's always a fight. Even our Nobel-acknowledged paper needed significant changes before it was accepted.

Winning a Nobel prize has been known to interrupt the winner's work. How has it affected yours?

Actually, before the Nobel prize I accumulated such inertia that I managed to go through the "prize barrier" relatively unscathed. Our work continues because it is a very hot area. It's very unusual for a Nobel to be given for something which continues to be incredibly hot. One of my colleagues said that when he heard the announcement, he thought to himself: "Oh good, now they'll leave this area for me." Then he saw another of our papers published, and thought: "damn, they're still working on it!"


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