The successful preparation and verification
of a mechanically exfoliated graphene monolayer by Novoselov et al. in 2004 has generated huge sensation and fuelled the exponential growth of research on graphene-related materials.1 Recently, graphene oxide
(GO) has attracted tremendous attention, owing to the escalating demands for seeking scaled-up production of graphene and exploring their potential applications in various technological fields. Different from graphene that is a single-layer sheet composed purely by carbon atoms with a hexagonal lattice structure, the individual GO sheet is enriched with oxygen-containing groups such as epoxide (a cyclic ether with three ring atoms), hydroxyl (-OH) or carboxylic acid (-COOH) groups, and is highly soluble in water. As a consequence, a proposed three-step approach, i.e.; 1) Synthesis
of graphite oxide from pristine graphite power; 2) Exfoliation of graphite oxide in water to generate a dispersion of single-layer graphene oxide; and followed by 3) A chemical or thermal reduction of graphene oxide to graphene; opens up a promising route to achieve large-scale production of graphene. On the other hand, these reactive terminal functionalities can serve as the initial binding sites to direct well-controlled surface interactions, thus to achieve either a designed functionalisation of graphene oxide or constructions of hierarchically structured graphene materials.
In this application note, abovementioned interfacial chemistry as both an intrinsic nature of GO materials and a key driving force for directing their applications will be characterized and illustrated from a microscopic point of view, using atomic force microscopy (AFM) as the main technique.
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Originally published by Agilent Technologies at www.agilent.com as "Graphene Oxide and Its Applications Revealed by Atomic Force Microscopy".