Fabrication and Functionalization of Graphene and Other Carbon Nanomaterials in Solution

Erika Widenkvist
Abstract & Cover

In the last decades several new nanostructures of carbon have been discovered, including carbon nanotubes (CNTs), and the recently discovered 2-dimensional graphene. These new materials exhibit extraordinary and unique properties—making them extremely interesting both for fundamental science and for future applications. It is, however, of crucial importance to develop new and improved fabrication and processing methods for these carbon nanomaterials. In this thesis the concept of applying solution chemistry and solution-based techniques to fabricate and to deposit graphene and other carbon nanomaterials is explored. An area-selective deposition method was developed for CNT and carbon-coated iron nanoparticles. By utilizing organic functionalization the properties of the nanomaterials were tuned, with the purpose to make them soluble in a liquid solvent and also enable them to selectively adsorb to non-polar surfaces. The first step of the functionalization process was an acid treatment, to introduce defects in the materials. This method was also used to create defects in so-called carbon nanosheets (CNS). The effect of the defect formation on the electric properties of the graphene-like CNS was studied; it was found that the resistance of the CNS could be reduced to 1/50 by acid treating of the sample. Also, the effect of the created defects on gas adsorption to the surface of the CNS has been investigated. This was done using atomic layer deposition (ALD) of TiO2 on the CNS, and a clear change in nucleation be-havior was seen due to the acid-treatment. Furthermore, a solution-based new method for fabrication of graphene was developed; this method combines intercalation of bromine into graphite with ultrasonic treatment to exfoliate flakes into a solvent. From the solvent the flakes can be deposited onto an arbitrary substrate. Several important parameters in the method were investigated in order to optimize the process. One important parameter proved to be the choice of solvent in all steps of the procedure; it was shown to influence sonication yield, flake size, and deposition results. Toluene was identified as a suitable solvent. A mild heat-treatment of the starting material was also identified as a way to increase the exfoliation yield. Using this method, fabrication of few-layer graphene sheets was achieved and areas down to 3 layers in thickness were identified—this is in the very forefront of current solution-based graphene fabrication techniques. 

Source of Information
Mats Boman
Uppsala University, Department of Materials Chemistry
(Uppsala, Sweden)
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