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The formation of two-dimensional micelles on graphene

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Abstractpeer-review

Publication date2015
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventInternational Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies - , Singapore
Duration: 28/06/2015 → …


ConferenceInternational Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies
Period28/06/15 → …


Due to its 2D structure, effective modification of surfaces and interfaces in graphene based systems is essential; efficient separation, suspension/dispersion and functionalisation of is typically achieved via surfactants in aqueous solution. However, it is well known that above a certain critical concentration, surfactants in aqueous environments self-assemble into three-dimensional spherical micelles with hydrophobic moieties shielded by a hydrophilic shell. Here we report a combined experimental and theoretical study demonstrating that surfactants can be designed to form 2D micelles, which are reported in for the first time in this study, when deposited in an aqueous environment onto atomically-flat graphitic surfaces thus opening up new strategies for processing and functionalising of 2D material surfaces and interfaces with widespread applications in biology, electronics, energy storage and information technology.

Our molecular dynamics simulations indicate that such surfactants form a new class of 2D self-arranged ‘starfish’ micelles (2DSMs), which possess highly desirable and tuneable characteristics of high surface affinity coupled with unimpeded mobility. These predictions are supported by experimentally-measured interactions using a graphene coated quartz crystal microbalance, in ambient and vacuum environments.

Using real-space nanoscale resolution nanomechanical sensitive ultrasonic force microscopy we correlate the molecular orientation within graphite deposited 2DSM with topographical mapping achieved by atomic force microscopy. We observe height profiles two orders of magnitude less than the 2DSM typical lateral dimension (0.60 ± 0.21 nm and 12.79 ± 2.93 nm respectively).