Scientists in the UCSB Nanoelectronics Research Lab have developed breakthrough technology in synthesizing graphene, a substance that could be revolutionary for a range of sectors including nanotechnology, medicine and green electronics.

Under the direction of NRL Director Kaustav Banerjee, the team of researchers developed a new method of creating graphene, a metal 100 times stronger than diamond made of one layer of carbon atoms. The results of the study, which began in 2007, will be published in the November 2011 issue of the scientific journal Carbon.

According to Banerjee, an electrical and computer engineering professor, graphene is extremely versatile and can be used both as a semiconductor and a metal.

“There is really nothing like it,” Banerjee said. “It does not follow the laws of Newtonian physics.”

Graphene was first produced in a Nobel Prize-winning physics study by researchers at the University of Manchester who used a unique type of adhesive tape to remove the infinitesimal single layer.

Banerjee said the team’s method of producing graphene creates a more pure form of the metal that can be used in the production of computer chips and high-efficiency solar power cells.

“Our process has certain unique advantages that give rise to high-quality graphene,” Banerjee said in a university press release. “For the electronics industry to effectively use graphene, it must first be grown selectively and in larger sheets. We have developed a synthesis technique that yields high-quality and high-uniformity graphene that can be translated into a scalable process for industry applications.”

According Intel Labs Fellow and Director of Intel’s Microprocessor Technology Lab Shekhar Borkar, the results of the study are quite promising for companies looking to stay on the cutting edge of nanotechnology.

“Intel has a keen interest in graphene due to many possibilities it holds for the next generation of energy efficient computing, but there are many roadblocks along the way,” Borkar said in a university press release. “The scalable synthesis technique developed by professor Banerjee’s group at UCSB is an important step forward.”

The team’s research was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.