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Nat Commun. 2014;5:3040. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4040.

Hydrogen-free graphene edges.

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Department of Materials, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PH, UK.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Korea.


Graphene edges and their functionalization influence the electronic and magnetic properties of graphene nanoribbons. Theoretical calculations predict saturating graphene edges with hydrogen lower its energy and form a more stable structure. Despite the importance, experimental investigations of whether graphene edges are always hydrogen-terminated are limited. Here we study graphene edges produced by sputtering in vacuum and direct measurements of the C-C bond lengths at the edge show ~86% contraction relative to the bulk. Density functional theory reveals the contraction is attributed to the formation of a triple bond and the absence of hydrogen functionalization. Time-dependent images reveal temporary attachment of a single atom to the arm-chair C-C bond in a triangular configuration, causing expansion of the bond length, which then returns back to the contracted value once the extra atom moves on and the arm-chair edge is returned. Our results provide confirmation that non-functionalized graphene edges can exist in vacuum.


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