Three-dimensional flexible and conductive interconnected graphene networks grown by chemical vapour deposition

Abstract

Integration of individual two-dimensional graphene sheets1,2,3 into macroscopic structures is essential for the application of graphene. A series of graphene-based composites4,5,6 and macroscopic structures7,8,9,10,11 have been recently fabricated using chemically derived graphene sheets. However, these composites and structures suffer from poor electrical conductivity because of the low quality and/or high inter-sheet junction contact resistance of the chemically derived graphene sheets. Here we report the direct synthesis of three-dimensional foam-like graphene macrostructures, which we call graphene foams (GFs), by template-directed chemical vapour deposition. A GF consists of an interconnected flexible network of graphene as the fast transport channel of charge carriers for high electrical conductivity. Even with a GF loading as low as 0.5 wt%, GF/poly(dimethyl siloxane) composites show a very high electrical conductivity of 10 S cm−1, which is 6 orders of magnitude higher than chemically derived graphene-based composites4. Using this unique network structure and the outstanding electrical and mechanical properties of GFs, as an example, we demonstrate the great potential of GF/poly(dimethyl siloxane) composites for flexible, foldable and stretchable conductors12.

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Figure 1: Synthesis of a GF and integration with PDMS.
Figure 2: Characterization of a free-standing GF.
Figure 3: Morphology, fracture surface, electrical conductivity and mechanical properties of GF/PDMS composites.
Figure 4: Electrical-resistance change of GF/PDMS composites under mechanical deformation.

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Acknowledgements

We thank L. Ma for assisting in large-size graphene foam synthesis and discussions. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation of China (Nos 50921004, 50972147 and 50872136) and Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. KJCX2-YW-231).

Author information

H-M.C. and W.R. proposed and supervised the project, W.R. and Z.C. designed the experiments, Z.C. carried out experiments, W.R., Z.C. and H-M.C. analysed data and wrote the manuscript, L.G. advised on the growth, B.L. made TEM measurements and S.P. helped with conductivity measurements. All the authors participated in discussions of the research.

Correspondence to Hui-Ming Cheng.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Chen, Z., Ren, W., Gao, L. et al. Three-dimensional flexible and conductive interconnected graphene networks grown by chemical vapour deposition. Nature Mater 10, 424–428 (2011) doi:10.1038/nmat3001

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