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24-carat gold 'snowflakes' improve graphene's electrical properties
Date:10/13/2009

In an effort to make graphene more useful in electronics applications, Kansas State University engineers made a golden discovery -- gold "snowflakes" on graphene.

Vikas Berry is a K-State assistant professor of chemical engineering who works with graphene, a carbon material only a single atom thick and discovered just five years ago. To functionalize graphene with gold -- thus controlling its electronics properties -- Berry and Kabeer Jasuja, a K-State doctoral student in chemical engineering, imbedded gold on graphene.

To do this, the engineers placed the graphene oxide sheets in a gold ion solution that had a growth catalyst. Here, the atomically thick sheets swim and bathe in a pool of chemicals.

"Graphene-derivatives act like swimming molecular carpets when in solution and exhibit fascinating physiochemical behavior," Berry said. "If we change the surface functionality or the concentration, we can control their properties."

They found that rather than distributing itself evenly over graphene, the gold formed islands on the sheets' surfaces. They named these islands snowflake-shaped gold nanostars, or SFGNs.

"So we started exploring how these gold nanostars are formed," Berry said. "We found out that nanostars with no surface functionality are rather challenging to produce by other chemical processes. We can control the size of these nanostars and have characterized the mechanism of nucleation and growth of these nanostructures. It's similar to the mechanism that forms real snowflakes."

Berry said the presence of graphene is critical for the formation of the gold nanostars. "If graphene is absent, the gold would clump together and settle down as big chunks," he said. "But the graphene helps in stabilizing the gold. This makes the nanostars more useful for electronic applications."

In July, Jasuja and Berry published their work in the journal ACS-Nano.

The discovery of these gold
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Contact: Vikas Berry
vberry@k-state.edu
785-532-5519
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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