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Researchers image graphene electron clouds, revealing how folds can harm conductivity
Date:6/28/2011

urbing the electron cloud, Banerjee and his partners employed two techniques that required use of a synchrotron: scanning transmission X-ray microscopy and near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS), a type of absorption spectroscopy. The experiments were further supported by computer simulations performed on computing clusters at Berkeley Lab.

"Using simulations, we can better understand the measurements our colleagues made using X-rays, and better predict how subtle changes in the structure of graphene affect its electronic properties," said David Prendergast, a staff scientist in the Theory of Nanostructures Facility at the Molecular Foundry at Berkeley Lab. "We saw that regions of graphene were sloped at different angles, like looking down onto the slanted roofs of many houses packed close together."

Besides documenting how folds in graphene distort its electron cloud, the research team discovered that contaminants that cling to graphene during processing linger in valleys where the material is uneven. Such contaminants uniquely distort the electron cloud, changing the strength with which the cloud is bound to the underlying atoms.

Graphene's unusual properties have generated excitement in industries including computing, energy and defense. Scientists say that graphene's electrical conductivity matches that of copper, and that graphene's thermal conductivity is the best of any known material.

But the new, UB-led study suggests that companies hoping to incorporate graphene into products such as conductive inks, ultrafast transistors and solar panels could benefit from more basic research on the nanomaterial. Improved processes for transferring flat sheets of graphene onto commercial products could greatly increase those products' efficiency.

"A lot of people know how to grow graphene, but it's not well understood how to transfer it onto something without it folding onto itself," Banerjee said. "It's very hard to kee
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Contact: Charlotte Hsu
chsu22@buffalo.edu
716-645-4655
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert  

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