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Title: Atomic Scale Imaging of the Electronic Structure and Chemistry of Graphene and Its Precursors on Metal Surfaces

Executive Summary of Final Report for Award DE-FG02-88ER13937 Project Title: Atomic Scale Imaging of the Electronic Structure and Chemistry of Graphene and its Precursors on Metal Surfaces Applicant/Institution: Columbia University Principal Investigator: George W. Flynn Objectives: The objectives of this project were to reveal the mechanisms and reaction processes that solid carbon materials undergo when combining with gases such as oxygen, water vapor and hydrocarbons. This research was focused on fundamental chemical events taking place on single carbon sheets of graphene, a two-dimensional, polycyclic carbon material that possesses remarkable chemical and electronic properties. Ultimately, this work is related to the role of these materials in mediating the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), their reactions at interfaces, and the growth of soot particles. Our intent has been to contribute to a fundamental understanding of carbon chemistry and the mechanisms that control the formation of PAH’s, which eventually lead to the growth of undesirable particulates. We expect increased understanding of these basic chemical mechanisms to spur development of techniques for more efficient combustion of fossil fuels and to lead to a concomitant reduction in the production of undesirable solid carbon material. Project Description: Our work treated specifically the surface chemistry aspectsmore » of carbon reactions by using proximal probe (atomic scale imaging) techniques to study model systems of graphene that have many features in common with soot forming reactions of importance in combustion flames. Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) is the main probe technique that we used to study the interfacial structure and chemistry of graphene, mainly because of its ability to elucidate surface structure and dynamics with molecular or even atomic resolution. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS), which measures the local density of quantum states over a single atom, provides information about the electronic structure of graphene and is particularly sensitive to the sign and magnitude of the charge transfer between graphene and any surface adsorbed species. Results: (A) Graphene on SiO2 In an effort designed to unravel aspects of the mechanisms for chemistry on graphene surfaces, STM and STS were employed to show that graphene on SiO2 is oxidized at lower temperatures than either graphite or multi-layer graphene. Two independent factors control this charge transfer: (1) the degree of graphene coupling to the substrate, and (2) exposure to oxygen and moisture. (B) Graphene on Copper In the case of graphene grown on copper surfaces, we found that the graphene grows primarily in registry with the underlying copper lattice for both Cu(111) and Cu(100). On Cu(111) the graphene has a hexagonal superstructure with a significant electronic component, whereas it has a linear superstructure on Cu(100). (C) Nitrogen Doped Graphene on Copper Using STM we have also studied the electronic structure and morphology of graphene films grown on a copper foil substrate in which N atoms substitute for carbon in the 2-D graphene lattice. The salient features of the results of this study were: (1) Nitrogen doped graphene on Cu foil exhibits a triangular structure with an “apparent” slight elevation of ~ 0.8 Å at N atom substitution sites; (2) Nitrogen doping results in ~0.4 electrons per N atom donated to the graphene lattice; (3) Typical N doping of graphene on Cu foil shows mostly single site Carbon atom displacement (~ 3N/1000C); (4) Some multi-site C atom displacement is observed (<10% of single site events). (D) Boron Doped Graphene on Copper We also used scanning tunneling microscopy and x-ray spectroscopy to characterize the atomic and electronic structure of boron-doped graphene created by chemical vapor deposition on copper substrates. Microscopic measurements show that boron, like nitrogen, incorporates into the carbon lattice primarily in the graphitic form and contributes ~0.5 free carriers into the graphene sheet per dopant. Density functional theory calculations indicate that boron dopants interact strongly with the underlying substrate while nitrogen does not. The local bonding differences between boron and nitrogen dopants lead to large-scale differences in dopant distribution and in the structure of the doped graphene films. The distribution of dopants was observed to be completely random in the case of boron, while nitrogen displayed strong sublattice clustering. Structurally, nitrogen-doped graphene is relatively defect-free while boron-doped graphene films show a large number of Stone-Wales defects. It is our expectation that a better understanding of carbon chemistry, especially the reactions of graphene flakes, will provide data that can ultimately be used to reduce particulate emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.« less
  1. Columbia University
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Columbia University
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
25 ENERGY STORAGE; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 77 NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY combustion, soot, graphite, graphene, surface chemicstry, Scanning Tunneling Microscopy