Silicon as a ubiquitous contaminant in graphene derivatives with significant impact on device performance
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Silicon contamination has been hampering the performance of commercially produced graphene.
Graphene has been hailed a ‘supermaterial’ owing to its strength, flexibility and conductivity, but it has not been reaching its full potential.
Now, a team that included researchers from the University of Wollongong scanned commercial graphene atom by atom using an electron microscope and noticed widespread silicon impurities that should have been removed during processing. When they tested the contaminated material in an electrode, they found it was almost 50% less conductive than pure graphene, which could be most effectively made from pure graphene oxide. Pure graphene also outshone all previous materials when used as a humidity sensor.
Removing silicon from graphene could be the key to unlocking its full potential in devices from wafer-thin electronics to water filters.
- Nature Communications 9, 5070 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07396-3