Distinguishing Self-Assembled Pyrene Structures from Exfoliated Graphene.
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Sonication-assisted graphene production from graphite is a popular lab-scale approach in which ultrasound energy breaks down graphite sheets into graphene flakes in aqueous medium. Dispersants (surfactant molecules) are incorporated into the solution to prevent individual graphene flakes from reaggregating. However, in solution these dispersants self-assemble into various structures, which can interfere with the characterization of the graphene produced. In this study, we characterized graphene dispersions stabilized by a family of pyrene-based surfactants that facilitate a high exfoliation yield. These surfactants self-assembled to form flakes and ribbons-shapes very similar to those of graphene structures. The dispersant structures were present both in the graphene dispersion and in the precipitate after the solvent had been evaporated and could therefore have been mistakenly identified as graphene by electron microscopy techniques and other characterization techniques, such as Raman and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Contrary to previous reports, we showed-by removing the dispersants by filtration and washing-that the surfactants did not affect the shape of the graphene prepared by sonication.
author list (cited authors)
Varenik, M., Green, M. J., & Regev, O.
complete list of authors
Varenik, Maxim||Green, Micah J||Regev, Oren