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ACS Nano. 2011 May 24;5(5):4073-83. doi: 10.1021/nn200666r. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Factors controlling the size of graphene oxide sheets produced via the graphite oxide route.

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Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, United States.


We have studied the effect of the oxidation path and the mechanical energy input on the size of graphene oxide sheets derived from graphite oxide. The cross-planar oxidation of graphite from the (0002) plane results in periodic cracking of the uppermost graphene oxide layer, limiting its lateral dimension to less than 30 μm. We use an energy balance between the elastic strain energy associated with the undulation of graphene oxide sheets at the hydroxyl and epoxy sites, the crack formation energy, and the interaction energy between graphene layers to determine the cell size of the cracks. As the effective crack propagation rate in the cross-planar direction is an order of magnitude smaller than the edge-to-center oxidation rate, graphene oxide single sheets larger than those defined by the periodic cracking cell size are produced depending on the aspect ratio of the graphite particles. We also demonstrate that external energy input from hydrodynamic drag created by fluid motion or sonication, further reduces the size of the graphene oxide sheets through tensile stress buildup in the sheets.

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