Andre Geim

Sir Andre Konstantin Geim, FRS, HonFRSC, HonFInstP (born 21 October 1958) is a Soviet-born Dutch-British physicist working in England in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester.[20]

Geim was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Konstantin Novoselov for his work on graphene.[21][22] He is Regius Professor of Physics and Royal Society Research Professor at the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

In addition to the 2010 Nobel Prize, he received an Ig Nobel Prize in 2000 for using the magnetic properties of water scaling to levitate a small frog with magnets. This makes him the first, and thus far only, person to receive both the prestigious science award and its tongue-in-cheek equivalent.

Sir Andre Geim
Andre Geim 2010-1
Geim in 2010
  • Andrei Konstantinovich Geim
  • Russian: Андре́й Константи́нович Гейм

21 October 1958 (age 60)[1]
ResidenceManchester, England
NationalityDutch and British
Alma materMoscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Known for
Spouse(s)Irina V. Grigorieva[7][8]
Scientific career
FieldsCondensed matter physics
ThesisInvestigation of mechanisms of transport relaxation in metals by a helicon resonance method (1987)
Doctoral advisorVictor Petrashov[11][12]
Doctoral students


Andre Geim was born to Konstantin Alekseyevich Geim and Nina Nikolayevna Bayer in Sochi, Russia, on 21 October 1958. Both his parents were engineers of German origin.[30][31]

In 1965, the family moved to Nalchik,[32] where he studied at a high school.[32] After graduation, he applied to the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.[33] He took the entrance exams twice, but attributes his failure to qualify to discrimination on account of his German ethnicity.[30] He then applied to the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), where he was accepted.

He said that at the time he would not have chosen to study solid-state physics, preferring particle physics or astrophysics, but is now happy with his choice.[34] He received a diplom (MSc degree equivalent) from MIPT in 1982 and a Candidate of Sciences (PhD equivalent) degree in metal physics in 1987 from the Institute of Solid State Physics (ISSP) at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in Chernogolovka.[34][35]

Academic career

After earning his PhD with Victor Petrashov,[11] Geim worked as a research scientist at the Institute for Microelectronics Technology (IMT) at RAS, and from 1990 as a post-doctoral fellow at the universities of Nottingham (twice), Bath, and Copenhagen. He said that while at Nottingham he could spend his time on research rather than "swimming through Soviet treacle,"[30] and determined to leave the Soviet Union.[36]

He obtained his first tenured position in 1994, when he was appointed associate professor at Radboud University Nijmegen, where he did work on mesoscopic superconductivity.[37] He later gained Dutch citizenship. One of his doctoral students at Nijmegen was Konstantin Novoselov, who went on to become his main research partner. However, Geim has said that he had an unpleasant time during his academic career in the Netherlands.

He was offered professorships at Nijmegen and Eindhoven, but turned them down as he found the Dutch academic system too hierarchical and full of petty politicking. "This can be pretty unpleasant at times," he says. "It's not like the British system where every staff member is an equal quantity."[36] On the other hand, Geim writes in his Nobel lecture that "In addition, the situation was a bit surreal because outside the university walls I received a warm-hearted welcome from everyone around, including Jan Kees and other academics."[38] (Prof. Jan Kees Maan was the research boss of Geim during his time at Radboud University Nijmegen.)

In 2001 he became a professor of physics at the University of Manchester, and was appointed director of the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology in 2002. Geim's wife and long-standing co-author, Irina Grigorieva, also moved to Manchester as a lecturer in 2001. The same year, they were joined by Novoselov who moved to Manchester from Nijmegen, which awarded him a PhD in 2004. Geim served as Langworthy Professor between 2007 and 2013, leaving this endowed professorship to Novoselov in 2012.[35] Also, between 2007 and 2010 Geim was an EPSRC Senior Research Fellow before becoming one of Royal Society Research Professors.[35][39]

Geim holds many honorary professorships including those from Tsinghua University (China), Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russia), and Radboud University Nijmegen (Netherlands).[40]


Geim's achievements include the discovery of a simple method for isolating single atomic layers of graphite, known as graphene, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Manchester[41] and IMT. The team published their findings in October 2004 in Science.[42][43][44]

Graphene consists of one-atom-thick layers of carbon atoms arranged in two-dimensional hexagons,[45][46] and is the thinnest material in the world, as well as one of the strongest and hardest.[47] The material has many potential applications.

Geim said one of the first applications of graphene could be in the development of flexible touchscreens, and that he has not patented the material because he would need a specific application and an industrial partner.[48]

Test of gecko tape
"Spider-Man test" of gecko tape[6]

Geim was involved in the development of a biomimetic adhesive which became known as gecko tape[6]—so called because of the adhesiveness of gecko feet—research of which is still in the early stages.[49] It is hoped that the development will eventually allow humans to scale ceilings, like Spider-Man.[50]

Geim's research in 1997 into the possible effects of magnetism on water scaling led to the famous discovery of direct diamagnetic levitation of water, and led to a frog being levitated.[51] For this experiment, he and Michael Berry received the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize.[5] "We were asked first whether we dared to accept this prize, and I take pride in our sense of humor and self-deprecation that we did".[30]

Geim has also carried out research on mesoscopic physics and superconductivity.[36][52]

He said of the range of subjects he has studied: "Many people choose a subject for their PhD and then continue the same subject until they retire. I despise this approach. I have changed my subject five times before I got my first tenured position and that helped me to learn different subjects."[34]

Expanding the scope of his research adventures, Geim started studying low-dimensional water in 2012, after his Nobel-prize achievements. A part of this work was acknowledged by the 2018 International Creativity Prize for Water[53].

He named his favourite hamster, H.A.M.S. ter Tisha, co-author in a 2001 research paper.[42][54]

Honours and awards

Frog diamagnetic levitation
Magnetically levitating a live frog, an experiment that earned Geim and Michael Berry the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize

Geim shared the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in physics with Michael Berry for the frog experiment.[55] In 2006 he appeared on the Scientific American 50.[56] The Institute of Physics awarded him the 2007 Mott Medal and Prize "for his discovery of a new class of materials—free-standing two-dimensional crystals—in particular graphene".[57] Geim was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2007.[58] His certificate of election reads:

Geim's research is notable for its internationally-recognised quality, originality and breadth. He has recently discovered a conceptually new class of materials strictly two-dimensional atomic crystals, including graphene. This has opened up a prolific research area including a new paradigm of "relativistic-like condensed matter", where relativistic quantum physics can be studied in a bench-top experiment. Previously, Geim pioneered ballistic Hall micromagnetometry and discovered a paramagnetic Meissner effect and new vortex physics in superconductors. He has also realised a microfabricated adhesive, based on the gecko's climbing mechanism, now being exploited by DuPont, BAe and TESA. His experiments at Nijmegen on magnetic levitation attracted worldwide media attention and stimulated international research in this field. His earlier research on mesoscopic physics included studies of non-local and interaction phenomena, and of the quantum motion of electrons in periodic and random magnetic fields. He disseminates science to the public and schoolchildren through broadcasts and "roadshow" lectures.[58]

He shared the 2008 EPS Europhysics Prize with Novoselov "for discovering and isolating a single free-standing atomic layer of carbon (graphene) and elucidating its remarkable electronic properties".[59] In 2009 he received the Körber European Science Award.[60] The US National Academy of Sciences honoured him with the 2010 John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science "for his experimental realisation and investigation of graphene, the two-dimensional form of carbon".[61]

He was awarded one of six Royal Society 2010 Anniversary Research Professorships.[62] The Royal Society added its 2010 Hughes Medal "for his revolutionary discovery of graphene and elucidation of its remarkable properties".[63] He was awarded honorary doctorates from Delft University of Technology,[64] ETH Zürich,[40] the University of Antwerp[65] and the University of Manchester. In 2010, Geim was appointed as Knight Commander of the Order of the Netherlands Lion for his contribution to Dutch Science.[66]

In 2011, Geim became a corresponding member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[67] He is Honorary Professor of Moscow Phys-Tech, Honorary Professor of the University of Nijmegen, Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics (HonFInstP), Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (HonFRSC), Honorary Fellow of Singapore Institute of Physics, Honorary Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.[68] Geim was furthermore made a Knight Bachelor in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to science.[69][70] He was elected a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in May 2012.[71] He was awarded the Copley Medal in 2013 and the Carbon Medal in 2016.

Nobel Prize in Physics

Nobel Prize 2010-Press Conference KVA-DSC 8019
Peter Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen, Christopher A. Pissarides, Konstantin Novoselov, Andre Geim, Akira Suzuki, Ei-ichi Negishi, and Richard Heck, Nobel Prize Laureates 2010, at a press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

On 5 October 2010, Geim was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Novoselov "for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene".[72] Upon hearing of the award he said, "I'm fine, I slept well. I didn't expect the Nobel Prize this year", and that his plans for the day would not change.[73] The lecture for the award took place on 8 December 2010 at Stockholm University.[74] He said he hopes that graphene and other two-dimensional crystals will change everyday life as plastics did for humanity.[75]

A colleague of Geim said that his award shows that people can still win a Nobel by "mucking about in a lab".[76] The award made him the first person to win, as an individual, both a Nobel Prize and an Ig Nobel Prize.[77] On winning both a Nobel and Ig Nobel, he has stated that

"Frankly, I value both my Ig Nobel prize and Nobel prize at the same level and for me Ig Nobel prize was the manifestation that I can take jokes, a little bit of self-deprecation always helps."[11]

Personal life

View and opinions

Geim was one of 38 Nobel laureates who signed a declaration in 2010 issued by Scholars for Peace in the Middle East condemning international attempts to boycott Israeli academics, institutions, and research centers.[78]

At the Nobel Minds symposium in December 2010, Geim said the Nobel Peace Prize committee's choice of Chinese dissident, the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo, as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was patronising, saying

"Look at the people who give this Nobel prize. They are retired Norwegian politicians who have spent all their careers in a safe environment, in an oil-rich modern country. They try to extend their views of the world, how the world should work and how democracy works in another country. It's very, very patronising— they have not lived in these countries. In the past 10 years, China has developed not only economically, but even the strongest human rights supporter would agree also human rights have improved. Why do we need to distort this?"[79][80]

Geim has written several opinion pieces for The Financial Times, examples of which can be found on his university webpage.[81]

In 2014, Geim's interview for Desert Island Discs, a popular BBC radio programme, revealed details of his personal life and taste in music.[82]


Geim has a complex ancestry which is described in detail in his Nobel Prize autobiography.[30] In there, Geim has stated that most of his family are ethnic Germans where his father descended from Volga Germans and his mother was mostly an ethnic German as well. Both his father and paternal grandfather had spent many years of their lives as prisoners in Siberia in Stalin's Gulags, and "some of the family had been prisoners in German concentration camps". He also states that he "suffered from anti-Semitism in Russia because my name sounds Jewish".[83]

Geim summarises his identity as follows. "To the best of my knowledge, the only Jew in the family was my great-grandmother, with the rest on both sides being German. Having lived and worked in several European countries, I consider myself European and do not believe that any further taxonomy is necessary, especially in such a fluid world as the world of science."[30][84]


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Further reading


André—sometimes transliterated as Andre—is the French and Portuguese form of the name Andrew, and is now also used in the English-speaking world, particularly in the United States. It is a variation of the Greek name Andreas, a short form of any of various compound names derived from andr- 'man, warrior'.

Beautiful Minds (TV programme)

Beautiful Minds is a British documentary television programme, produced by BBC and broadcast on BBC Four. The first series aired in April 2010, and the second series in April 2012. Each series consists of three episodes.

Experimental physics

Experimental physics is the category of disciplines and sub-disciplines in the field of physics that are concerned with the observation of physical phenomena and experiments. Methods vary from discipline to discipline, from simple experiments and observations, such as the Cavendish experiment, to more complicated ones, such as the Large Hadron Collider.

Fellow of the Royal Society

Fellowship of the Royal Society (FRS, ForMemRS and HonFRS) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of London judges to have made a 'substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science'.

Fellowship of the Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, is a significant honour which has been awarded to many eminent scientists from history including Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Michael Faraday (1824), Ernest Rutherford (1903), Srinivasa Ramanujan (1918), Albert Einstein (1921), Winston Churchill (1941), Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1944), Dorothy Hodgkin (1947), Alan Turing (1951) and Francis Crick (1959). More recently, fellowship has been awarded to Stephen Hawking (1974), Tim Hunt (1991), Elizabeth Blackburn (1992), Tim Berners-Lee (2001), Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (2003), Atta-ur Rahman (2006), Andre Geim (2007), James Dyson (2015), Ajay Kumar Sood (2015), Subhash Khot (2017), Elon Musk (2018), and around 8,000 others in total, including over 280 Nobel Laureates since 1900. As of October 2018, there are approximately 1689 living Fellows, Foreign and Honorary Members, of which over 60 are Nobel Laureates.Fellowship of the Royal Society has been described by The Guardian newspaper as “the equivalent of a lifetime achievement Oscar” with several institutions celebrating their announcement each year.

Graphene Research Centre

The Graphene Research Centre (GRC), at the National University of Singapore (NUS), is the first centre in Asia dedicated to graphene research. The Centre was established under the scientific advice of two Nobel Laureates in physics – Prof Andre Geim and Prof Konstantin Novoselov - who won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of graphene. It was created for the conception, characterization, theoretical modeling, and development of transformative technologies based on two-dimensional crystals, such as graphene.

History of graphene

Single-layer graphene was explored theoretically by P. R. Wallace in 1947. It was first unambiguously produced and identified in 2004, by the group of Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, though they credit Hanns-Peter Boehm and his co-workers for the experimental discovery of graphene in 1962. Boehm et al. introduced the term graphene in 1986.

Ig Nobel Prize

The Ig Nobel Prize ( IG-noh-BEL) is a parody of the Nobel Prize awarded every autumn to celebrate ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. Since 1991, the Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded to "honor achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think." The name of the award is a pun on the word ignoble, which means "characterized by baseness, lowness, or meanness", and is satirical social criticism that identifies "absurd" research, although, occasionally, such research has succeeded in yielding useful knowledge.Organized by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), the Ig Nobel Prizes are presented by Nobel laureates in a ceremony at the Sanders Theater, Harvard University, and are followed by the winners’ public lectures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science

The John J. Carty Award for the Advancement of Science is awarded by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences "for noteworthy and distinguished accomplishments in any field of science within the charter of the Academy". Established by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) and first awarded in 1932, the medal has been awarded in specific fields since 1961. The recipient is awarded a $25,000 prize. It is named after John J. Carty, an American electrical engineer who worked at AT&T.

Konstantin Novoselov

Sir Konstantin Sergeevich Novoselov (born 23 August 1974) is a Russian-born British physicist, and a Professor at Centre for Advanced 2D Materials at National University of Singapore. He is also the Langworthy Professor in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. His work on graphene with Andre Geim earned them the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

Langworthy Professor

The Langworthy Professor is the holder of an endowed chair in the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester, England.

It was founded by a bequest of £10,000 for the purpose of endowing a professorship of experimental physics by E. R. Langworthy in 1874. It began at Owens College and from 1903/04 to 2004 was a chair at the Victoria University of Manchester, now The University of Manchester.

Previous holders include the Nobel prize winners Ernest Rutherford (1907–19), Lawrence Bragg (1919–37), Patrick Blackett (1937–1953), Andre Geim (2007–2013) and Konstantin Novoselov (2013–). Others were Andrew Lyne (?-2007), Brian Flowers, Arthur Schuster (1888–1907), Samuel Devons. The current holder is Konstantin Novoselov (2013–).

List of British people with German ancestry

This is a list of notable British people with German ancestry.

Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology

The Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology is a centre for interdisciplinary research in mesoscience and nanotechnology headed by Andre Geim at the University of Manchester. The purpose of the centre is to allow researchers to construct devices from a few micrometres down to 10 nanometres in size. It was opened by Lord Sainsbury on 7 April 2003.The centre is based in the School of Computer Science, and houses a suite of Class 100 to Class 1000 cleanrooms. These facilities played an important role in the discovery of Graphene by scientists in Manchester and subsequent Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. The facility also hosts The North West Nanoscience Doctoral Training Centre (NOWNano DTC) funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in collaboration with Lancaster University.

Nevill Mott Medal and Prize

The Nevill Mott medal and prize is awarded in odd-numbered years by the Institute of Physics. It was first established in 1997 thanks to a donation of Sir Nevill Mott's family. Sir Nevill Mott was one of the outstanding British condensed matter theorists and won a Nobel prize in Physics in 1977. He died in 1996. The award is for distinguished research in condensed matter or materials physics and consists of a silver medal and a prize of £1000.

Niels Bohr Institute

The Niels Bohr Institute (Danish: Niels Bohr Institutet) is a research institute of the University of Copenhagen. The research of the institute spans astronomy, geophysics, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum mechanics and biophysics.

Philip Kim

Philip Kim' is a condensed matter physicist known for study of quantum transport in carbon nanotubes and graphene, including observations of quantum Hall effects in graphene.

School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester

The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester is one of the largest and most active Physics departments in the UK, taking around 250 new undergraduates and 50 postgraduates each year, and employing more than 80 members of academic staff and over 100 research fellows and associates. The school is based on two sites: the Schuster Laboratory on Brunswick Street and the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics in Cheshire, international headquarters of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, the school is the 9th best Physics department in the world and best in Europe. It is ranked equal 7th place in the UK by GPA according to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014. The University has a long history of physics dating back to 1874, which includes 12 Nobel laureates, most recently Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov who were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for their discovery of graphene.

Simon van der Meer

Simon van der Meer (24 November 1925 – 4 March 2011) was a Dutch particle accelerator physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 with Carlo Rubbia for contributions to the CERN project which led to the discovery of the W and Z particles, two of the most fundamental constituents of matter.

2010 Nobel Prize laureates
Physiology or Medicine
Copley Medallists (2001–present)
Nobel Prize laureates from The Netherlands
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Prize in Physics
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

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