skip to main content


Title: The effect of intrinsic crumpling on the mechanics of free-standing graphene

Free-standing graphene is inherently crumpled in the out-of-plane direction due to dynamic flexural phonons and static wrinkling. We explore the consequences of this crumpling on the effective mechanical constants of graphene. We develop a sensitive experimental approach to probe stretching of graphene membranes under low applied stress at cryogenic to room temperatures. We find that the in-plane stiffness of graphene is 20–100 N m –1 at room temperature, much smaller than 340 N m –1 (the value expected for flat graphene). Moreover, while the in-plane stiffness only increases moderately when the devices are cooled down to 10 K, it approaches 300 N m –1 when the aspect ratio of graphene membranes is increased. Finally, these results indicate that softening of graphene at temperatures <400 K is caused by static wrinkling, with only a small contribution due to flexural phonons. Altogether, these results explain the large variation in reported mechanical constants of graphene devices and pave the way towards controlling their mechanical properties.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [3]
  1. Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN (United States)
  2. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  3. Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN (United States); Freie Univ. Berlin, Berlin (Germany)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
FG02-09ER46554; AC05-00OR22725; NSF CAREER 4-20-632-3391; HDTRA1-15-1-0036
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1327762