Visualizing graphene based sheets by fluorescence quenching microscopy

J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Jan 13;132(1):260-7. doi: 10.1021/ja906730d.


Graphene based sheets have stimulated great interest due to their superior mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. A general visualization method that allows quick observation of these single atomic layers would be highly desirable as it can greatly facilitate sample evaluation and manipulation, and provide immediate feedback to improve synthesis and processing strategies. Here we report that graphene based sheets can be made highly visible under a fluorescence microscope by quenching the emission from a dye coating, which can be conveniently removed afterward by rinsing without disrupting the sheets. Current imaging techniques for graphene based sheets rely on the use of special substrates. In contrast, the fluorescence quenching mechanism is no longer limited by the type of substrate. Graphene, reduced graphene oxide, or even graphene oxide sheets deposited on arbitrary substrates can now be readily visualized with good contrast for layer counting. Direct observation of suspended sheets in solution was also demonstrated. The fluorescence quenching microscopy offers unprecedented imaging flexibility and could become a general tool for characterizing graphene based materials.