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Nat Nanotechnol. 2011 Aug 28;6(10):651-7. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2011.130.

Graphene oxide windows for in situ environmental cell photoelectron spectroscopy.

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Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois 62901, USA.


The performance of new materials and devices often depends on processes taking place at the interface between an active solid element and the environment (such as air, water or other fluids). Understanding and controlling such interfacial processes require surface-specific spectroscopic information acquired under real-world operating conditions, which can be challenging because standard approaches such as X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy generally require high-vacuum conditions. The state-of-the-art approach to this problem relies on unique and expensive apparatus including electron analysers coupled with sophisticated differentially pumped lenses. Here, we develop a simple environmental cell with graphene oxide windows that are transparent to low-energy electrons (down to 400 eV), and demonstrate the feasibility of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements on model samples such as gold nanoparticles and aqueous salt solution placed on the back side of a window. These proof-of-principle results show the potential of using graphene oxide, graphene and other emerging ultrathin membrane windows for the fabrication of low-cost, single-use environmental cells compatible with commercial X-ray and Auger microprobes as well as scanning or transmission electron microscopes.

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