Graphene - a 2-D honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms is the building block for all other graphitic forms of carbon. This single-layer cousin of graphite has attracted enormous attention since its discovery in 2004. Engineers and physicists alike are excited about the potential of this novel material.

The basis for the unprecedented interest in graphene ? a single sheet of aromatic sp2- bonded carbon atoms ? is two-fold: (1) as a replacement for silicon, and (2) as a solid-state example of relativistic quantum behavior.

The purpose of this research is to develop techniques for fabricating pristine, large-area graphene suitable for use in next-generation electronics and fundamental condensed-matter research. The extraordinary conduction properties exhibited by graphene are comparable to those observed in other well-studied carbon allotropes ? nanotubes and fullerenes however, the planar structure of graphene is also compatible with existing thin-film micro-fabrication techniques.

Graphene is not naturally occurring, and unsupported it is inherently unstable, therefore, the ability to reliably synthesize graphene represents a critical step towards graphene-based technologies. A novel two-step synthesis approach that combines catalytic graphene growth methods with a soft-lithography techniques is being investigated. The aim is to reproducibly synthesize wafer-scale graphene to simplify further device and physics investigations. The transport properties of graphene samples fabricated by this method will be examined with the intention of demonstrating proof-of-concept graphene integrated circuits. Such graphene based devices may eventually supplant silicon in high performance integrated circuits. The outstanding electrical and mechanical properties of graphene promise to increase device performance by orders of magnitude. The prospect of simple continuous fabrication techniques from readily available materials that are compatible with current lithography methods indicates that graphene merits serious consideration as a next-generation material.

For a brief history of the discovery of graphene and the review of the extraordinary properties, please see the following articles:
The Rise of Graphene
Graphene: Exploring Carbon Flatland
Graphene: Carbon in Two Dimensions