Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study shows availability of hydrogen controls chemical structure of graphene oxide

23.05.2012
Metastable material

A new study shows that the availability of hydrogen plays a significant role in determining the chemical and structural makeup of graphene oxide, a material that has potential uses in nano-electronics, nano-electromechanical systems, sensing, composites, optics, catalysis and energy storage.

The study also found that after the material is produced, its structural and chemical properties continue to evolve for more than a month as a result of continuing chemical reactions with hydrogen.

Understanding the properties of graphene oxide – and how to control them – is important to realizing potential applications for the material. To make it useful for nano-electronics, for instance, researchers must induce both an electronic band gap and structural order in the material. Controlling the amount of hydrogen in graphene oxide may be the key to manipulating the material properties.

"Graphene oxide is a very interesting material because its mechanical, optical and electronic properties can be controlled using thermal or chemical treatments to alter its structure," said Elisa Riedo, an associate professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "But before we can get the properties we want, we need to understand the factors that control the material's structure. This study provides information about the role of hydrogen in the reduction of graphene oxide at room temperature."

The research, which studied graphene oxide produced from epitaxial graphene, was reported on May 6 in the journal Nature Materials. The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at Georgia Tech, and by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Graphene oxide is formed through the use of chemical and thermal processes that mainly add two oxygen-containing functional groups to the lattice of carbon atoms that make up graphene: epoxide and hydroxyl species. The Georgia Tech researchers began their studies with multilayer expitaxial graphene grown atop a silicon carbide wafer, a technique pioneered by Walt de Heer and his research group at Georgia Tech. Their samples included an average of ten layers of graphene.

After oxidizing the thin films of graphene using the established Hummers method, the researchers examined their samples using X-ray photo-emission spectroscopy (XPS). Over about 35 days, they noticed the number of epoxide functional groups declining while the number of hydroxyl groups increased slightly. After about three months, the ratio of the two groups finally reached equilibrium.

"We found that the material changed by itself at room temperature without any external stimulation," said Suenne Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in Riedo's laboratory. "The degree to which it was unstable at room temperature was surprising."

Curious about what might be causing the changes, Riedo and Kim took their measurements to Angelo Bongiorno, an assistant professor who studies computational materials chemistry in Georgia Tech's School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Bongiorno and graduate student Si Zhou studied the changes using density functional theory, which suggested that hydrogen could be combining with oxygen in the functional groups to form water. That would favor a reduction in the epoxide groups, which is what Riedo and Kim were seeing experimentally.

"Elisa's group was doing experimental measurements, while we were doing theoretical calculations," Bongiorno said. "We combined our information to come up with the idea that maybe there was hydrogen involved."

The suspicions were confirmed experimentally, both by the Georgia Tech group and by a research team at the University of Texas at Dallas. This information about the role of hydrogen in determining the structure of graphene oxide suggests a new way to control its properties, Bongiorno noted.

"During synthesis of the material, we could potentially use this as a tool to change the structure," he said. "By understanding how to use hydrogen, we could add it or take it out, allowing us to adjust the relative distribution and concentration of the epoxide and hydroxyl species which control the properties of the material."

Riedo and Bongiorno acknowledge that their material – based on epitaxial graphene – may be different from the oxide produced from exfoliated graphene. Producing graphene oxide from flakes of the material involves additional processing, including dissolving in an aqueous solution and then filtering and depositing the material onto a substrate. But they believe hydrogen plays a similar role in determining the properties of exfoliated graphene oxide.

"We probably have a new new form of graphene oxide, one that may be more useful commercially, although the same processes should also be happening within the other form of graphene oxide," said Bongiorno.

The next steps are to understand how to control the amount of hydrogen in epitaxial graphene oxide, and what conditions may be necessary to affect reactions with the two functional groups. Ultimately, that may provide a way to open an electronic band gap and simultaneously obtain a graphene-based material with electron transport characteristics comparable to those of pristine graphene.

"By controlling the properties of graphene oxide through this chemical and thermal reduction, we may arrive at a material that remains close enough to graphene in structure to maintain the order necessary for the excellent electronic properties, while having the band gap needed to create transistors," Riedo said. "It could be that graphene oxide is the way to arrive at that type of material."

Beyond those already mentioned, the paper's authors included Yike Hu, Claire Berger and Walt de Heer from the School of Physics at Georgia Tech, and Muge Acik and Yves Chabal from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under grants CMMI-1100290, DMR-0820382 and DMR-0706031, and by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Sciences under grants DE-FG02-06ER46293 and DE-SC001951. The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigators and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Science Foundation or the Department of Energy.

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals reveals clues to improving solar cells
22.11.2017 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Fine felted nanotubes: CAU research team develops new composite material made of carbon nanotubes
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

UCLA engineers use deep learning to reconstruct holograms and improve optical microscopy

22.11.2017 | Medical Engineering

Watching atoms move in hybrid perovskite crystals reveals clues to improving solar cells

22.11.2017 | Materials Sciences

New study points the way to therapy for rare cancer that targets the young

22.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>