Graphene Oxide 'Paper' Changes Under Strain, Study Reveals

First Posted: Jan 20, 2016 10:30 AM EST

Researchers have created a new graphene oxide "paper" that changes with strain. In this latest study, the researchers applied a 'slip-and-stick' technique (similar to the one that leads to earthquakes) on a molecular level with nanoscale materials, which helps determine the shear plasticity of materials.

The researchers found that that random molecules scattered within layers of pristine graphene affect how the layers interact with each other under strain. Plasticity enables a material to become permanently deformed when stain is applied. Thus, the researchers decided to create flexible electronics where they experimented with graphene oxide "paper" to determine if it can handle shear strain, where the sheets are pulled at the ends.

"We want to build three-dimensional structures from two-dimensional materials, so this kind of study is useful," Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, lead author of the study, said in a news release. "These structures could be a thermal substrate for electronic devices, they could be filters, they could be sensors or they could be biomedical devices. But if we're going to use a material, we need to understand how it behaves."

During their experiment, a number of graphene oxide paper were layered on top of each other. The oxygen molecules "functionalized" the surfaces, where it created roughness on the atom-thick sheets. The researchers used computer models, which showed that a small amount of stress causes the paper to corrugate when the layers are eventually separated. A high amount of strain causes the material to become brittle, according to the researchers.

"After this study, we now know there are some functional groups that are useful and some that are not," Tiwary said. "With this understanding we can choose the functional groups to make better structures at the molecular level."

The findings of this study were published in journal Nano Letters.

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