Characterisation and functionalisation of mechanically fractured graphene nanoribbons : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nanoscience at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand
Graphene has been heralded as the supermaterial of the future, boasting incredibly high electron mobility, thermal conductivity, and physical strength – all contained within the world’s first true 2D material, only a single atom thick. Graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) broaden this potential further by demonstrating width-dependent band gaps due to confinement effects. In addition, the ability to define the edge geometry and dimensions of GNRs allows control over self-assembly of these novel carbon nanostructures. GNR synthesis has been broadly explored in literature, demonstrating both relatively high yields and atomic-scale precision. Rarely, however, are these two criteria achieved in the same technique. Longitudinal unzipping of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) generates large quantities of nanoribbon material at the expense of quality, while techniques such as chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and bottom up synthesis achieve truly astounding quality, but lack scalability.
Recently, the synthesis of highly ordered GNRs with tunable dimensions and unique geometries has been demonstrated using mechanical fracturing of a block of graphite via simple microtomy techniques. This method offers a top-down approach to GNR synthesis providing highly ordered structure on a much larger scale than efforts to date. In this work, this technique has been altered to use a dry-cut method, and the structural and chemical properties of the material obtained therein have been extensively characterised, demonstrating increased quality, structural order, and quantities obtainable. Further, this work has demonstrated the functionalisation of these dry-cut materials both chemically via simple organic chemistries, and non-covalently utilising filamentous bacteriophage as a route towards biofunctionalisation.