As mechanical structures enter the nanoscale regime, the influence of van der Waals forces increases. Graphene is attractive for nanomechanical systems1,2 because its Young's modulus and strength are both intrinsically high, but the mechanical behaviour of graphene is also strongly influenced by the van der Waals force3,4. For example, this force clamps graphene samples to substrates, and also holds together the individual graphene sheets in multilayer samples. Here we use a pressurized blister test to directly measure the adhesion energy of graphene sheets with a silicon oxide substrate. We find an adhesion energy of 0.45 ± 0.02 J m−2 for monolayer graphene and 0.31 ± 0.03 J m−2 for samples containing two to five graphene sheets. These values are larger than the adhesion energies measured in typical micromechanical structures and are comparable to solid–liquid adhesion energies5,6,7. We attribute this to the extreme flexibility of graphene, which allows it to conform to the topography of even the smoothest substrates, thus making its interaction with the substrate more liquid-like than solid-like.
This is a preview of subscription content
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $8.25 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Bunch, J. S. et al. Electromechanical resonators from graphene sheets. Science 315, 490–493 (2007).
Meyer, J. C. et al. The structure of suspended graphene sheets. Nature 446, 60–63 (2007).
Bunch, J. S. et al. Impermeable atomic membranes from graphene sheets. Nano Lett. 8, 2458–2462 (2008).
Lee, C. et al. Measurement of the elastic properties and intrinsic strength of monolayer graphene. Science 321, 385–388 (2008).
Maboudian, R. & Howe, R. T. Critical review: adhesion in surface micromechanical structures. J. Vac. Sci. Technol. B 15, 1–20 (1997).
Israelachvilli, J. Intermolecular and Surface Forces (Academic Press, 2011).
Delrio, F. W. et al. The role of van der Waals forces in adhesion of micromachined surfaces. Nature Mater. 4, 629–634 (2005).
Gent, A. N. & Lewandowski, L. H. Blow-off pressures for adhering layers. J. Appl. Polym. Sci. 33, 1567–1577 (1987).
Wan, K. & Mai, Y. Fracture mechanics of a new blister test with stable crack growth. Acta Metall. Mater. 43, 4109–4115 (1995).
Hencky, H. Über den spannungszustand in kreisrunden platten mit verschwindender biegungssteiflgkeit. Z. fur Mathematik und Physik 63, 311–317 (1915).
Williams, J. Energy release rates for the peeling of flexible membranes and the analysis of blister tests. Int. J. Fracture 87, 265–288 (1997).
Blakslee, O. L. et al. Elastic constants of compression-annealed pyrolytic graphite. J. Appl. Phys. 41, 3373–3382 (1970).
DelRio, F. W. et al. The effect of nanoparticles on rough surface adhesion. J. Appl. Phys. 99, 104304 (2006).
DelRio, F. W. et al. Elastic and adhesive properties of alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers on gold. Appl. Phys. Lett. 94, 131909 (2009).
Buks, E. & Roukes, M. L. Stiction, adhesion energy, and the Casimir effect in micromechanical systems. Phys. Rev. B 63, 33402 (2001).
Zong, Z. et al. Direct measurement of graphene adhesion on silicon surface by intercalation of nanoparticles. J. Appl. Phys. 107, 026104 (2010).
Yu, M. F., Kowalewski, T. & Ruoff, R. S. Structural analysis of collapsed, and twisted and collapsed, multiwalled carbon nanotubes by atomic force microscopy. Phys. Rev. Lett. 86, 87–90 (2001).
Cullen, W. et al. High-fidelity conformation of graphene to SiO2 topographic features. Phys. Rev. Lett. 105, 215504 (2010).
Rudenko, A. N. et al. Local interfacial interactions between amorphous SiO2 and supported graphene. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.1655 (2011).
Aitken, Z. H. & Huang, R. Effects of mismatch strain and substrate surface corrugation on morphology of supported monolayer graphene. J. Appl. Phys. 107, 123531 (2010).
Li, T. & Zhang, Z. Substrate-regulated morphology of graphene. J. Phys. D 43, 075303 (2010).
Kusminskiy, S. V. et al. Pinning of a two-dimensional membrane on top of a patterned substrate: the case of graphene. Phys. Rev. B 83, 165405 (2011).
Suk, J. W. et al. Mechanical properties of monolayer graphene oxide. ACS Nano 4, 6557–6564 (2010).
Ruiz-Vargas, C. S. et al. Softened elastic response and unzipping in chemical vapor deposition graphene membranes. Nano Lett. 11, 2259–2263 (2011).
Lee, C. et al. Frictional characteristics of atomically thin sheets. Science 328, 76–80 (2010).
Lui, C. H. et al. Ultraflat graphene. Nature 462, 339–341 (2009).
Capasso, F. et al. Casimir forces and quantum electrodynamical torques: physics and nanomechanics. IEEE J. Sel. Top. Quant. 13, 400–414 (2007).
Lu, Z. & Dunn, M. L. van der Waals adhesion of graphene membranes. J. Appl. Phys. 107, 044301 (2010).
Novoselov, K. S. et al. Two-dimensional atomic crystals. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 102, 10451–10453 (2005).
Koh, Y. K. et al. Reliably counting atomic planes of few-layer graphene (n > 4). ACS Nano 5, 269–274 (2011).
Ferrari, A. C. et al. Raman spectrum of graphene and graphene layers. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97, 187401 (2006).
This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF, grant nos. 0900832 and 1054406), the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Membrane Science, Engineering and Technology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the DARPA Center on Nanoscale Science and Technology for Integrated Micro/Nano-Electromechanical Transducers (DARPA/SPAWAR, grant no. N66001-10-1-4007). Sample fabrication was performed at the University of Colorado node of the National Nanofabrication Users Network, funded by the NSF. The authors thank G. Acosta, L. Wang and X. Liu for help with fabrication and R. Raj for use of the Raman microscope.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Koenig, S., Boddeti, N., Dunn, M. et al. Ultrastrong adhesion of graphene membranes. Nature Nanotech 6, 543–546 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2011.123
Nature Nanotechnology (2022)
Nature Reviews Materials (2022)
Nature Communications (2022)
Journal of Materials Science (2022)
Nature Communications (2021)