What’s the most expensive thing you can buy on the planet? Gold? Diamonds? Perfume?
It’s actually something called Nitrogen Atom-Based Endohedral Fullerenes. That might be a bit of a mouthful, but some of this material has recently been sold for about £110 million per gram.
Oxford scientists at Designer Carbon Materials have developed the new material, which could be used to make incredibly accurate atomic clocks. What’s more, these clocks could be tiny. Typical atomic clocks are the size of a room.
Atomic clocks are integral in GPS systems, and the ability to make miniature ones would revolutionise not just route advice, but the possibility of driverless cars, as the accuracy of on-board atomic clocks could help GPS systems track a car’s location even where the GPS signal is weak such as through tunnels, making remote driving suddenly a whole lot safer.
The material is essentially a minuscule cage of carbon atoms, with a nitrogen atom inside, and the company reckon that in the future our smart phones could all contain mini atomic clocks.
You’d better start practising saying “endohedral fullerenes”!