Brazil is about a year away from opening its first research lab devoted to graphene, a flexible, waterproof and highly conductive material, the project's coordinator, Eunezio Antonio Thoroh de Souza, told Efe.

The Center for Advanced Graphene, Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology Center of Universidad Presbiteriana Mackenzie, or MackGrafe, is expected to open in the first half of 2014 in Sao Paulo.

The research center will focus on developing methods for producing graphene, known as the raw material of the 21st century, the scientist said.

The Sao Paulo State Research Support Foundation, or Fapesp, is providing start-up funding for the center, which will be equipped with cutting-edge equipment.

Some $15 million is being invested to launch the center.

Graphene, considered the world's toughest material, is composed of carbon atoms with a hexagonal structure.

The European Union's "Flagship" program is spending $1 billion to fund graphene research in several countries. EFE