Letter | Published:

Graphene-templated directional growth of an inorganic nanowire

Nature Nanotechnology volume 10, pages 423428 (2015) | Download Citation


Assembling inorganic nanomaterials on graphene1,2,3 is of interest in the development of nanodevices and nanocomposite materials, and the ability to align such inorganic nanomaterials on the graphene surface is expected to lead to improved functionalities4, as has previously been demonstrated with organic nanomaterials epitaxially aligned on graphitic surfaces5,6,7,8,9,10. However, because graphene is chemically inert, it is difficult to precisely assemble inorganic nanomaterials on pristine graphene2,11,12,13,14,15,16. Previous techniques2,3 based on dangling bonds of damaged graphene11,17,18,19,20, intermediate seed materials11,15,16,21,22 and vapour-phase deposition at high temperature12,13,14,23,24,25 have only formed randomly oriented or poorly aligned inorganic nanostructures. Here, we show that inorganic nanowires of gold(I) cyanide can grow directly on pristine graphene, aligning themselves with the zigzag lattice directions of the graphene. The nanowires are synthesized through a self-organized growth process in aqueous solution at room temperature, which indicates that the inorganic material spontaneously binds to the pristine graphene surface. First-principles calculations suggest that this assembly originates from lattice matching and π interaction to gold atoms. Using the synthesized nanowires as templates, we also fabricate nanostructures with controlled crystal orientations such as graphene nanoribbons with zigzag-edged directions.

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The authors thank A.P. Alivisatos, H. Fujita, Y. Arakawa, B.J. Kim, L. Yang, J. Moon, Y. Ota, H. Suh, J. Kwon and J. Min for helpful discussions. The authors also thank J. Kim and Y. Mizutani for the AFM analysis, S. Mori and M. Onuki for technical support and A. Sato for help with graphic illustrations. This work was mainly supported by the Takeuchi Biohybrid Innovation Project, Exploratory Research for Advanced Technology (ERATO), Japan Science and Technology (JST). A.Z. and K.K. acknowledge support from the Director, Office of Energy Research, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division, of the US Department of Energy (DE-AC02-05CH11231) and from the Office of Naval Research (MURI grant N00014-09-1066). K.K. also acknowledges support from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2014R1A1A2058178). D.A.W. and J.P. acknowledge support from the Harvard MRSEC (DMR-0820484) and Amore-Pacific. H.L. and J.K. acknowledge support from the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2015R1A1A1001583) and also acknowledge support from KISTI under the Supercomputing Applications Support Program (KSC-2013-C3-034). H.Y.J. acknowledges support from the 2012 Research Fund (1.120032.01) of UNIST.

Author information

Author notes

    • Won Chul Lee
    • , Kwanpyo Kim
    •  & Jungwon Park

    These authors contributed equally to this work


  1. Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo 153-8505, Japan

    • Won Chul Lee
    •  & Shoji Takeuchi
  2. ERATO Takeuchi Biohybrid Innovation Project, Japan Science and Technology Agency, Tokyo 153-8904, Japan

    • Won Chul Lee
    •  & Shoji Takeuchi
  3. Department of Physics, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • Kwanpyo Kim
    •  & Alex Zettl
  4. Department of Physics, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan 689-798, South Korea

    • Kwanpyo Kim
  5. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Jungwon Park
    •  & David A. Weitz
  6. Department of Physics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • Jungwon Park
    •  & David A. Weitz
  7. Department of Physics, Konkuk University, Seoul 143-701, South Korea

    • Jahyun Koo
    •  & Hoonkyung Lee
  8. UNIST Central Research Facilities (UCRF), Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Ulsan 689-798, South Korea

    • Hu Young Jeong
  9. Materials Sciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • Alex Zettl


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W.C.L., K.K. and J.P. conceived the design of the study. S.T., A.Z. and D.A.W. supervised the project. K.K. and J.P. initially discovered the nanowire synthesis phenomenon. W.C.L., K.K., J.P. and H.Y.J. performed all experiments. J.K. and H.L. performed first-principles calculations. W.C.L., K.K., J.P., H.L., D.A.W., A.Z. and S.T. wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Alex Zettl or Shoji Takeuchi.

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