Driving forces of conformational changes in single-layer graphene oxide

Whitby, Raymond L.D., Gun'ko, Vladimir M., Korobeinyk, Alina, Busquets, Rosa, Cundy, Andrew B., Laszlo, Krisztina, Skubiszewska-Zieba, Jadwiga, Leboda, Roman, Toth, Ildiko Y., Kovacs, Krisztina and Mikhalovsky, Sergey V. (2012) Driving forces of conformational changes in single-layer graphene oxide. ACS Nano, 6(5), pp. 3967-3973. ISSN (print) 1936-0851


The extensive oxygen-group functionality of single-layer graphene oxide proffers useful anchor sites for chemical functionalization in the controlled formation of graphene architecture and composites. However, the physicochemical environment of graphene oxide and its single-atom thickness facilitate its ability to undergo conformational changes due to responses to its environment, whether pH, salinity, or temperature. Here, we report experimental and molecular simulations confirming the conformational changes of single-layer graphene oxide sheets from the wet or dry state. MD, PM6, and ab initio simulations of dry SLG and dry and wetted SLGO and electron microscopy imaging show marked differences in the properties of the materials that can explain variations in previously observed results for the pH dependent behavior of SLGO and electrical conductivity of chemically modified graphene-polymer composites. Understanding the physicochemical responses of graphene and graphene oxide architecture and performing selected chemistry will ultimately facilitate greater tunability of their performance.

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