From the Special Topic of
According to our Special Topics analysis of graphene
research over the past decade, the scientist who ranks at
#2 in terms of total number of papers is Dr. Francisco
Guinea, with 47 papers cited a total of 1,091 times. Four
of these papers also appear among the 20 most-cited papers
over the past decade. Eighteen of these papers are
classified as Highly Cited Papers inEssential
Dr. Guinea is a Research Professor in the Department of Condensed
Matter Theory of the Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid, which is
part of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC).
In the interview below,
he talks with ScienceWatch.com about his graphene
Would you tell us a bit about your
educational background and research experiences?
I did my undergraduate studies, and then obtained my Ph.D. in Spain, way
back in the late '70s. At that time there were a few good groups doing
research in physics in Spain, but, in general, science lagged well behind
the rest of the developed world. I was fortunate to obtain a Fulbright
grant, so I could go to an excellent place, the ITP, Institute for
Theoretical Physics (now KITP), in Santa Barbara, California. I have tried
ever since to stay alert to new developments in as many areas of physics
and science in general as possible, and I have also done my best to
overcome the difficulties encountered when tackling new problems.
What first attracted you to work in graphene?
What's so special about graphene?
"One of the fascinating properties
of graphene is that some types of structural
deformations influence the motion of
electrons within it in the same manner as the
electromagnetic field does in empty
Graphene is a lot of fun for many reasons. It relates to almost all
interesting problems in condensed matter and statistical physics, and it
has also fascinating connections to field theory, and even cosmology.
Besides, there is a general consensus about the general models to be used,
so that there is not the confusion typical of many new topics in condensed
matter physics and materials science. If that is not enough, graphene seems
to have real and useful applications.
What would you say is the main focus of your
I am trying to balance the fun of solving new and challenging theoretical
problems with the usefulness to the broad community. Graphene has unique
properties which have not been considered before, and which require new
theoretical concepts, like the special connection between the shape and the
structural properties on one hand, and the electronic properties.
Your most-cited original paper in our analysis is
the 2006 Physical Review B article, "Electronic properties of
disordered two-dimensional carbon." What sort of impact has this paper
had on the field?
My colleagues and I were among the first who thought that graphene was
going to have many novel properties. We explored a number of these features
in that paper, and highlighted their difference with other,
One of your more recent papers is also from
Physical Review B, "Gauge field induced by ripples in
graphene." Would you walk our readers through this paper—its
goals, findings, and significance?
One of the fascinating properties of graphene is that some types of
structural deformations influence the motion of electrons within it in the
same manner as the electromagnetic field does in empty space. If the
two-dimensional graphene layer is not completely flat, the electrons feel
an effective magnetic field, whose strength depends on the curvature.
Moreover, it has been observed that typical graphene samples show ripples
on many scales.
"Graphene is a lot of fun for many
In the paper mentioned, we tried to quantify the effect of this novel
field. We showed that it can have observable consequences, changing the
electronic structure in new ways.
What are your hopes for this field for the
I am very optimistic. Despite the huge research effort done so far, a
number of very interesting and difficult problems remain unexplored.
Besides, experiments continue showing new and unexpected behavior, which
are waiting for explanations.
What would you like the "take-away lesson" about
your research to be?
In general, that condensed matter physics is a very rich and challenging
field, where interesting problems appear all the time. In order to be able
to contribute on the theoretical side, a broad background and a working
knowledge of different techniques help a lot.
Francisco (Paco) Guinea
Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid