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Nanoscale Res Lett. 2012 Mar 9;7(1):185. doi: 10.1186/1556-276X-7-185.

Graphite flake self-retraction response based on potential seeking.

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  • 1Laboratory for Optics, Acoustics, & Mechanics, Monash University, Clayton, VIC3800, Australia.


The high elastic modulus and interlayer strengths of graphite flakes make them a durable solid superlubricant. Apart from this, they have configurable electrical properties, exhibit quantum Hall effects, and possess a myriad of useful photonic properties. The self-retraction behavior of graphite flakes can have significant impact on the creation of ordered stacks for various applications because any accidental or intentional displacement of the top flake over the stacks below may result in a misalignment of the carbon-carbon atomic arrangement which, in turn, can have influence over the electrical and photonic properties. It has also been revealed that there was a tendency of the displaced microflake to fail at times to return to its original starting position and orientation. Here, we elucidate this behavior by considering the influence of the interlayer potential forces based on minimal potential energy seeking. The maps of the parameters interrogated here provide the ability for precautions to be undertaken. They also potentially permit the creation of an array of microflake stacks in which the metastable states permit different information to be encoded by virtue of the differentiated photonic or electrical characteristics readable from each array site.

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