Direct imaging of charge transport in progressively reduced graphene oxide using electrostatic force microscopy

Sibel Ebru Yalcin, Charudatta Galande, Rajesh Kappera, Hisato Yamaguchi, Ulises Martinez, Kirill A. Velizhanin, Stephen K. Doorn, Andrew M. Dattelbaum, Manish Chhowalla, Pulickel M. Ajayan, Gautam Gupta, Aditya D. Mohite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Graphene oxide (GO) has emerged as a multifunctional material that can be synthesized in bulk quantities and can be solution processed to form large-Area atomic layered photoactive, flexible thin films for optoelectronic devices. This is largely due to the potential ability to tune electrical and optical properties of GO using functional groups. For the successful application of GO, it is key to understand the evolution of its optoelectronic properties as the GO undergoes a phase transition from its insulating and optically active state to the electrically conducting state with progressive reduction. In this paper, we use a combination of electrostatic force microscopy (EFM) and optical spectroscopy to monitor the emergence of the optoelectronic properties of GO with progressive reduction. EFM measurements enable, for the first time, direct visualization of charge propagation along the conducting pathways that emerge on progressively reduced graphene oxide (rGO) and demonstrate that with the increasing degree of reduction, injected charges can rapidly migrate over a distance of several micrometers, irrespective of their polarities. Direct imaging reveals the presence of an insurmountable potential barrier between reduced GO (rGO) and GO, which plays the decisive role in the charge transport. We complement charge imaging with theoretical modeling using quantum chemistry calculations that further demonstrate that the role of barrier in regulating the charge transport. Furthermore, by correlating the EFM measurements with photoluminescence imaging and electrical conductivity studies, we identify a bifunctional state in GO, where the optical properties are preserved along with good electrical conductivity, providing design principles for the development of GO-based, low-cost, thin-film optoelectronic applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2981-2988
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 24 2015


  • charge injection
  • charge transport
  • electrostatic force microscopy (EFM)
  • photoluminescence
  • progressively reduced graphene oxide
  • tight-binding calculations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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