Consider the humble pencil. It may come as a surprise to learn that the now common writing instrument at one time topped the list of must-have, high-tech gadgets. In fact, the simple pencil was once even banned from export as a strategic military asset. But what is probably more unexpected is the news that every time someone scribes a line with a pencil, the resulting mark includes bits of the hottest new material in physics and nanotechnology: graphene.