Production of High-quality Few-layer Graphene Flakes by Intercalation and Exfoliation
AuthorsAlzahrani, Areej A.
AdvisorsDa Costa, Pedro M. F. J.
KAUST DepartmentPhysical Sciences and Engineering (PSE) Division
Permanent link to this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/10754/626356
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AbstractGraphene, a two-dimensional nanomaterial, has been given much attention since it was first isolated in 2004. Driving this intensive research effort are the unique properties of this one atom thick sheet of carbon, in particular its electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. While the technological applications proposed for graphene abound, its low-cost production in large scales is still a matter of interrogation. Simple methods to obtain few-layered graphene flakes of high structural quality are being investigated with the exfoliation of graphite taking a prominent place in this arena. From the many suggested approaches, the most promising involve the use of liquid media assisted by intercalants and shear forces acting on the basal layers of graphite. In this thesis, it is discussed how a novel method was developed to produce flakes with consistent lateral dimensions that are also few-layered and retain the expected structural and chemical characteristics of graphene. Here, the source material was a commercially available graphiteintercalated compound, also known as expandable graphite. Several exfoliation-inducing tools were investigated including the use of blenders, homogenizers, and ultrasonic processors. To aid in this process, various solvents and intercalants were explored under different reactive conditions. The more efficient approach in yielding defect-free thin flakes was the use of thermally expanded graphite in boiling dimethylformamide followed by ultrasonic processing and centrifugation. In parallel, a method to fraction the flakes as a function of their lateral size was developed. Ultimately, it was possible to obtain samples of graphene flakes with a lateral dimension of a few micrometers (<5 μm) and thickness of 1-3 nm (i.e. <10 layers).