Revisiting Graphene Oxide Chemistry via Spatially-Resolved Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy

TitleRevisiting Graphene Oxide Chemistry via Spatially-Resolved Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsTararan, A, Zobelli, A, Benito, AM, Maser, WK, St├ęphan, O
Date PublishedJUN 14

The type and distribution of oxygen functional groups in graphene oxide (GO) and reduced graphene oxide (RGO) remain still a subject of great debate. Local analytic techniques are required to access the chemistry of these materials at a nanometric scale. Electron energy loss spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope can provide the suitable resolution, but GO and RGO are extremely sensitive to electron irradiation. In this work we employ an optimized experimental setup to reduce electron illumination below damage limit. GO oxygen maps obtained at a few nanometers scale show separated domains with different oxidation levels. The C/O ratio varies from about 4:1 to 1:1, the latter corresponding to a complete functionalization of the graphene flakes. In RGO the residual oxygen concentrates mostly in regions few tens of nanometers wide. Specific energy-loss near-edge structures are observed for different oxidation levels. By combining these findings with first-principles simulations we propose a model for the highly oxidized domains where graphene is fully functionalized by hydroxyl groups forming a 2D-sp(3) carbon network analogous to that of graphane.