Scientists have successfully created the world's most expensive material – a nano-sized carbon atom valued at £100m ($152m) per gram. The pricey microscopic particles are called endohedral fullerenes, which are spherical ball-shaped carbon structures containing nitrogen atoms and are used in atomic clocks.
Designer Carbon Materials, which is a spin-out company from Oxford University, has been working on the material for more than 12 years and recently sold just 200 micrograms for £22,000. That blows the likes of gold, diamonds and locks of Justin Bieber's hair out of the water. Why is it so expensive? It's extremely difficult to make. The scale at which the scientists are working is at an atomic level making it very hard to manufacture at speed and on mass quantities.
World's most expensive material: what's it used for?
The main application for the material is use within atomic clocks, which are the world's most accurate form of timekeeping. However, these clocks are currently huge units that require almost a whole room to accommodate. This new nano-sized material will mean atomic clock technology can be shrunk down to microchip size and used within mobile phones.
"Imagine a minaturised atomic clock that you could carry around in your smartphone," Dr Kyriakos Porfyrakis, founder of the material told the Telegraph. "This is the next revolution for mobile."
With this incredibly accuracy in your pocket it also can be applied to GPS on vehicles meaning they would become far more effective. Where today's GPS can pinpoint your location down to within a couple of metres, GPS using the endohedral fullerenes would be accurate down to 1mm. This means self-driving cars could take a giant leap in safety and awareness.
"There will be lots of applications for this technology," it said in the report. "The most obvious is in controlling autonomous vehicles. If two cars are coming towards each other on a country lane, knowing where they are to within 2m is not enough, but to 1mm it is enough."
All very exciting stuff – however we dread to think how much driverless cars will end up costing if the sat-nav components come in at hundreds of thousands of pounds.