Currently the preferred method for large-scale production of solution-processable graphene is via a nonconductive graphene oxide (GO) pathway, which uncontrollably cuts sheets into small pieces and/or introduces nanometer-sized holes in the basal plane. These structural changes significantly decrease some of graphenes remarkable electrical and mechanical properties. Here, we report an unprecedented fast and scalable approach to avoid these problems and directly produce large, highly conductive graphene sheets. This approach intentionally excludes KMnO 4 from Hummers methods and exploits aromatic oxidation by nitronium ions combined with the unique properties of microwave heating. This combination promotes rapid and simultaneous oxidation of multiple non-neighboring carbon atoms across an entire graphene sheet, thereby producing only a minimum concentration of oxygen moieties sufficient to enable the separation of graphene sheets. Thus, separated graphene sheets, which are referred to as microwave-enabled low-oxygen graphene, are thermally stable and highly conductive without requiring further reduction. Even in the absence of polymeric or surfactant stabilizers, concentrated dispersions of graphene with clean and well-separated graphene sheets can be obtained in both aqueous and organic solvents. This rapid and scalable approach produces high-quality graphene sheets of low oxygen content, enabling a broad spectrum of applications via low-cost solution processing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry