Synthesis of Few-Layer Graphene by Peeling Graphite Flakes via Electron Exchange in Solution Plasma

Sangwoo Chae, Maria Antoaneta Bratescu, Nagahiro Saito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Compared with conventional graphene, few-layer graphene is an easy-to-use material because of its interesting mechanical and chemical properties. Meanwhile, solution plasma (SP) represents a nonequilibrium discharge, which induces electron exchange similar to a catalyst. Thus, SP serves as an electron donor and acceptor between organic molecules and graphite flakes in a solution. Finally, electron exchange leads to the formation of few-layer graphene by peeling graphite flakes. Furthermore, CN-functionalized few-layer graphene (f-FLG) exhibits excellent stability and dispersibility because of the balance of attractive and repulsive forces, i.e., the van der Waals force between the planes and the electrostatic force of the nitrile functional groups on the edges. In this study, f-FLG was successfully synthesized by peeling graphite flakes via electron exchange induced by SP in an aqueous solution containing an ionic liquid (IL) (1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium dicyanamide (EMIM-DCA)). X-ray diffraction measurements revealed that the intensity of the 002 diffraction of graphite and the crystallite size along the [001] direction decreased to about 5 nm after SP treatment, indicating the progress of graphite flake peeling. Furthermore, the purified product comprised three layers with a crystallite size along the basal plane of about 80 nm evaluated by the deconvolution of the Raman 2D band. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy confirmed that the synthesized f-FLG contains 7.7 atom % nitrogen, and the IR spectrum revealed the presence of the CN functional group. To understand the peeling mechanism, the ionization potential (IP) and electron affinity (EA) of the IL in water, and the averaged electron excitation temperature (Te) in plasma were estimated by ab initio molecular orbital calculations, cyclic voltammetry, and optical emission spectroscopy. An energy diagram of IP, EA, and Te shows that SP served to pump electrons for their circulation via EMIM-DCA and to remove electrons from graphite flakes and inject into f-FLG.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23793-23802
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Oct 26
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Energy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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