Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Graphene ‘onion rings’ have delicious potential

19.07.2013
Rice University lab grows ‘bottom-up’ nanoribbons for the first time

Concentric hexagons of graphene grown in a furnace at Rice University represent the first time anyone has synthesized graphene nanoribbons on metal from the bottom up — atom by atom.


This set of hexagonal graphene “onion rings” was grown at Rice University. The rings represent the first example of graphene nanoribbons grown from the bottom up – that is, atom by atom – via chemical vapor deposition. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

As seen under a microscope, the layers brought onions to mind, said Rice chemist James Tour, until a colleague suggested flat graphene could never be like an onion.

“So I said, ‘OK, these are onion rings,’” Tour quipped.

The name stuck, and the remarkable rings that chemists marveled were even possible are described in a new paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The challenge was to figure out how such a thing could grow, Tour said. Usually, graphene grown in a hot furnace by chemical vapor deposition starts on a seed — a speck of dust or a bump on a copper or other metallic surface. One carbon atom latches onto the seed in a process called nucleation and others follow to form the familiar chicken-wire grid.

Experiments in Tour’s lab to see how graphene grows under high pressure and in a hydrogen-rich environment produced the first rings. Under those conditions, Tour, Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and their teams found that the entire edge of a fast-growing sheet of graphene becomes a nucleation site when hydrogenated. The edge lets carbon atoms get under the graphene skin, where they start a new sheet.

But because the top graphene grows so fast, it eventually halts the flow of carbon atoms to the new sheet underneath. The bottom stops growing, leaving a graphene ring. Then the process repeats.

“The mechanism relies on that top layer to stop carbon from reaching the bottom so easily,” Tour said. “What we get are a multiple of single crystals growing one on top of the other.”

The Tour lab pioneered the bulk manufacture of single-atom-thick graphene nanoribbons in 2009 with the discovery that carbon nanotubes could be chemically “unzipped” into long, thin sheets. Nanoribbons are being studied for use in batteries and advanced electronics and as heat sinks.

“Usually you make a ribbon by taking a large thing and cutting it down,” Tour said. “But if you can grow a ribbon from the bottom up, you could have control of the edges.” The atomic configuration at the edge helps determine graphene’s electrical properties. The edges of hexagonal graphene onion rings are zigzags, which make the rings metallic.

“The big news here,” he said, “is that we can change relative pressures of the growth environment of hydrogen versus carbon and get entirely new structures. This is dramatically different from regular graphene.”

Graduate student Zheng Yan, a member of Tour’s lab and lead author of the paper, discovered the new route to nanoribbons while experimenting with graphene growth under hydrogen pressurized to varying degrees. The sweet spot for rings was at 500 Torr, he said.

Further testing found the microscopic rings formed underneath and not on top of the sheet, and Yakobson’s lab confirmed the growth mechanism through first-principle calculations. Yan also determined the top sheet of graphene could be stripped away with argon plasma, leaving stand-alone rings.

The width of the rings, which ranged from 10 to 450 nanometers, also affects their electronic properties, so finding a way to control it will be one focus of continued research, Tour said. “If we can consistently make 10-nanometer ribbons, we can begin to gate them and turn them into low-voltage transistors,” he said. They may also be suitable for lithium storage for advanced lithium ion batteries, he said.

Co-authors of the paper are Rice graduate students Yuanyue Liu, Zhiwei Peng, Changsheng Xiang, Abdul-Rahman Raji and Errol Samuel; postdoctoral researchers Jian Lin, Gunuk Wang and Haiqing Zhou; Rice alumna Elvira Pembroke; and Professor Ting Yu of Nanyang Technological University. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science at Rice. Yakobson is the Karl F. Hasselmann Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and professor of chemistry.

The Singapore National Research Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Lockheed Martin LANCER IV program and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research supported the work. Calculations were performed on the National Science Foundation-supported DaVinCI supercomputer at Rice, the National Institute for Computational Sciences’ Kraken and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s Hopper.

Read the abstract at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja403915m

David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus
22.05.2017 | University of Toronto

nachricht Insight into enzyme's 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs
19.05.2017 | DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>