Graphene nanoribbon band structures for arm-chair type. Tightbinding calculations show that armchair type can be semiconducting or metallic depending on width (chirality). Credit: SR Mehrotra and G Klimeck; Wikipedia.

The Office of Naval Research has announced that it is interested in encouraging “research and innovation in bottom-up chemical synthesis and assembly of carbon, particularly graphene, based electronic devices and circuits with atomic precision and Angstrom resolution,” and has just issued a Basic Research Challenge to stir up interest and submission of ideas.

The program, says ONR in the announcement, will support basic research on building new electronic devices and circuits “from the molecular level up, using molecular synthesis, surface catalytic chemistry and other novel techniques.”

ONR says it envisions several stages to the projects it hopes to fund. The beginning emphasis will be on “synthesis of graphene nanostructures with controllable predetermined shape and atomically sharp edges, e.g., graphene nanoribbons.” Dimensionally, it says it is interested in nanoribbons a few nanometers wide and longer than 100 nanometers. During this initial phase, ONR also wants to have methods developed to transfer the nanoribbon to non-metallic substrates.

The middle phase of the projects would focus on “synthesis of molecules that perform as graphene based circuit elements, and eventually, to rationally design and assemble them into ‘circuit molecules’.”

Eventually, ONR wants the projects’ emphasis to evolve into creating “ways to interface the molecularly derived graphene circuit elements and circuits, and impedance match them, with top-down manufactured systems at micrometer scale” and also “interface with other molecules, such as other carbon allotropes (CNT, C60 etc.), graphene derivatives (hydrogenated and/or fluorinated graphene) and other closely related noncarbon materials (hexagonal boron nitride, silicene, MoS2, etc.).”

The Navy imagines funding somewhere between two and six different projects using a fund of $6 million spread out over five years.

Have some ideas for ONR? Although not required, interested individuals are encouraged to first submit short white papers, which will be evaluated to determine whether the technology advancement proposed appears to be of particular value. White papers should be submitted by March 31, 2012, to Chagaan Baatar (chagaan dot baatar at navy dot mil) and Paul Armistead (paul dot armistead at navy dot mil). Baatar and Armistead also serve as technical contacts for the program.

Full proposals submissions should be made through by May 1, 2012. The ONR announcement mentions finding the grant opportunity using the funding number ONRBAA-12-001, but I could only find it by searching using the funding number 12-SN-0003. Be sure to check out the submission information detailed in the ONR’s announcement. Things will be happening fast: ONR says final funding decisions will be made by May 15 and grants will be awarded July 1.