The highly controllable, reversible two-step process developed at Rice chemist James Tour's lab tweaked earlier graphene
manipulation techniques and allowed a team of researchers to build patterns in a hydrogenated
that organic chemists can develop into diverse new applications, the university announced
about the work detailed in the journal Nature Communications
Though carbon is key to organic chemical reactions in general, carbon as graphene is inert to many of them, and as a semimetal
graphene alone has no band gap
, so its usefulness in electronics is limited.
But this project produced a graphene sheet with hydrogen molecules affixed to exact, chosen locations on its basal plane
, sites where the chemists then attached organic molecules, the first steps to creating graphene-based organic chemistry, electronics and optics, and new types of metamaterials
more advanced thermoelectric
devices and chemical sensors.
the significance of the new technique and the wide range of possibilities it has opened:
"(The molecules) would mostly go to the edges, not the interior. But with this two-step technique, we can hydrogenate graphene to make a particular pattern and then attach molecules to where those hydrogens were.
This is useful to make, for example, chemical sensors in which you want peptides, DNA nucleotides or saccharides projected upward in discrete places along a device. The reactivity at those sites is very fast relative to placing molecules just at the edges. Now we get to choose where they go."