Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Optimizing the structure and molecular weight of polymers for graphene dispersants


Graphene is an allotrope of carbon consisting of a single-atom-thick honeycomb lattice nanostructure. Among the various preparation methods for graphene, the liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite is mass-producible and cost-effective. To facilitate the exfoliation of graphite in organic solvents, polymers can be employed as dispersants. We synthesized polymer dispersants with various monomer ratios and molecular weights and investigated the efficient acquisition of graphene from graphite. Graphene with a uniform thickness was obtained when graphite was exfoliated using an optimized polymer dispersant. The optimized polymer enabled a high yield and concentration of graphene using liquid-phase exfoliation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  1. Ciesielski A, Samorì P. Supramolecular approaches to graphene: from self-assembly to molecule-assisted liquid-phase exfoliation. Adv Mater. 2016;28:6030–51.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Li Z, Young RJ, Backes C, Zhao W, Zhang X, Zhukov AA, et al. Mechanisms of liquid-phase exfoliation for the production of graphene. ACS Nano. 2020;14:10976–85.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Xia ZY, Pezzini S, Treossi E, Giambastiani G, Corticelli F, Morandi V, et al. The exfoliation of graphene in liquids by electrochemical, chemical, and sonication-assisted techniques: a nanoscale study. Adv Funct Mater. 2013;23:4684–93.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Hernandez Y, Nicolosi V, Lotya M, Blighe FM, Sun Z, De S, et al. High-yield production of graphene by liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite. Nat Nanotechnol 2008;3:563–8.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Vadukumpully S, Paul J, Valiyaveettil S. Cationic surfactant mediated exfoliation of graphite into graphene flakes. Carbon. 2009;47:3288–94.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Geng J, Kong BS, Yang SB, Jung HT. Preparation of graphene relying on porphyrin exfoliation of graphite. Chem Commun. 2010;46:5091–3.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Haar S, El Gemayel M, Shin Y, Melinte G, Squillaci MA, Ersen O, et al. Enhancing the liquid-phase exfoliation of graphene in organic solvents upon addition of n-octylbenzene. Sci Rep. 2015;5:16684.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Haar S, Ciesielski A, Clough J, Yang H, Mazzaro R, Richard F, et al. A supramolecular strategy to leverage the liquid-phase exfoliation of graphene in the presence of surfactants: unraveling the role of the length of fatty acids. Small 2015;11:1691–702.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. May P, Khan U, Hughes JM, Coleman JN. Role of solubility parameters in understanding the steric stabilization of exfoliated two-dimensional nanosheets by adsorbed polymers. J Phys Chem C. 2012;116:11393–400.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Shboul AA, Trudeau C, Cloutier S, Siaj M, Claverie JP. Graphene dispersions in alkanes: toward fast drying conducting inks. Nanoscale. 2017;9:9893–901.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Sun Z, Pöller S, Huang X, Guschin D, Taetz C, Ebbinghaus P, et al. High-yield exfoliation of graphite in acrylate polymers: a stable few-layer graphene nanofluid with enhanced thermal conductivity. Carbon. 2013;64:288–94.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gkermpoura S D, Papadimitriou K N, Skountzos E, Polyzos I, Carbone MGP, Kotrotsos A, et al. 3-Arm star pyrene-functional PMMAs for efficient exfoliation of graphite in chloroform: fabrication of graphene-reinforced fibrous veils. Nanoscale. 2019;11:915–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Gentiluomo S, Thorat SB, Del Río Castillo AE, Toth PS, Panda JK, Pellegrini V, et al. Poly(methyl methacrylate)-assisted exfoliation of graphite and its use in acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene composites. Chem – A Eur J. 2020;26:6715–25.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Takeda S, Nishina Y. Structural optimization of alkylbenzenes as graphene dispersants. Processes. 2020;8:238.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Banks AR, Fibiger RF, Jones T. A convenient synthesis of methacrylates. J Org Chem. 1977;42:3965–6.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Okouchi M, Yamaji Y, Yamauchi K. Contact angle of poly(alkyl methacrylate)s and effects of the alkyl group. Macromolecules. 2006;39:1156–9.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Gharib DH, Gietman S, Malherbe F, Moulton SE. High yield, solid exfoliation and liquid dispersion of graphite driven by a donor-acceptor interaction. Carbon. 2017;123:695–707.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Salavagione HJ, Sherwood J, Bruyn MD, Budarin VL, Ellis GJ, Clark JH, et al. Identification of high performance solvents for the sustainable processing of graphene. Green Chem. 2017;19:2550–60.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Lee H, Park JY. Height determination of single-layer graphene on mica at controlled humidity using atomic force microscopy. Rev Sci Instrum. 2019;90:103702.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Malard LM, Pimenta MA, Dresselhaus G, Dresselhaus MS. Raman spectroscopy in graphene. Phys Rep. 2009;473:51–87.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (21H01763), JST CREST (JPMJCR20H3), and Kondo Memorial Foundation.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yuta Nishina.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Takeda, S., Nishina, Y. Optimizing the structure and molecular weight of polymers for graphene dispersants. Polym J (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI:


Quick links