Graphene-based materials are a focus area of research at the university because they are expected to have applications for ultra-strong yet lightweight materials that could be used in automobiles and airplanes to improve fuel efficiency, the blades of wind turbines for improved generation of electrical power, as critical components in nanoelectronics that could have blazing speeds but very low power consumption, for electrical energy storage in batteries and supercapacitors to enable renewable energy production at a large scale and in transparent conductive films that will be used in solar cells and image display technology. In almost every application, sensitive chemical interactions with surrounding materials will play a central role in understanding and optimizing performance.
Ruoff and his team proved they had made such an isotopically-labeled material from measurements by co-author Frank Stadermann of Washington University in St Louis. Stadermann used a special mass spectrometer typically used for measuring the isotope abundances of various elements that are in micrometeorites that have landed on Earth. Then, 100 percent carbon-13 labeled graphite was converted to 100 percent carbon-13 labeled graphite oxide, also a layered material but with some oxygen atoms attached to the graphene by chemical bonds.
Co-authors Yoshitaka Ishii and Medhat Shaibat of the University of Illinois-Chicago then used solid state nuclear magnetic resonance to help reveal the detailed chemical bonding network in graphite oxide. Ruoff says even though graphite oxide was first synthesized more than150 years ago the distribution of oxygen atoms has been debated even quite recently.
|Contact: Rod Ruoff|
University of Texas at Austin