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Unusual infrared-absorption mechanism in thermally reduced graphene oxide


Infrared absorption of atomic and molecular vibrations in solids can be affected by electronic contributions through non-adiabatic interactions, such as the Fano effect. Typically, the infrared-absorption lineshapes are modified, or infrared-forbidden modes are detectable as a modulation of the electronic absorption. In contrast to such known phenomena, we report here the observation of a giant-infrared-absorption band in reduced graphene oxide, arising from the coupling of electronic states to the asymmetric stretch mode of a yet-unreported structure, consisting of oxygen atoms aggregated at the edges of defects. Free electrons are induced by the displacement of the oxygen atoms, leading to a strong infrared absorption that is in phase with the phonon mode. This new phenomenon is only possible when all other oxygen-containing chemical species, including hydroxyl, carboxyl, epoxide and ketonic functional groups, are removed from the region adjacent to the edges, that is, clean graphene patches are present.

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Figure 1: Transmission infrared-absorbance spectrum of GO-1L.
Figure 2: Transmission infrared absorption spectra of thermally reduced GO-1L after annealing at 850 °C.
Figure 3: Simulated vibration modes of edge-oxidized graphene nanoribbon.
Figure 4: Total integrated absorbance versus annealing temperatures measured at 60 °C for GO-1L.
Figure 5: Electronic-structure change under asymmetric C–O–C stretch-mode vibration of edge-oxidized graphene nanoribbon.


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The authors acknowledge the financial support of the SWAN-NRI program and Texas Instruments (TI), the technical expertise of J-F. Veyan and in-depth discussions with L. Colombo (TI) and with R. M. Wallace, E. Vogel, J. Kim, M. Kim, J-F. Veyan and W. Kirk at UT Dallas.

Author information




M.A. carried out all infrared-spectroscopy work, including thermal-annealing experiments in parallel to chemical reduction. G.L. carried out all density functional theory and molecular dynamics simulations using theoretical methods. Y.J.C. and K.C. directed and supervised the experimental and theoretical research, respectively. M.A., G.L., K.C. and Y.J.C. contributed equally to the manuscript. C.M. prepared the single-layer and three-layer graphene oxide samples under M.C.’s supervision.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Y. J. Chabal.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Acik, M., Lee, G., Mattevi, C. et al. Unusual infrared-absorption mechanism in thermally reduced graphene oxide. Nature Mater 9, 840–845 (2010).

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