Hydrogen-free graphene edges

Nat Commun. 2014;5:3040. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4040.


Graphene edges and their functionalization influence the electronic and magnetic properties of graphene nanoribbons. Theoretical calculations predict saturating graphene edges with hydrogen lower its energy and form a more stable structure. Despite the importance, experimental investigations of whether graphene edges are always hydrogen-terminated are limited. Here we study graphene edges produced by sputtering in vacuum and direct measurements of the C-C bond lengths at the edge show ~86% contraction relative to the bulk. Density functional theory reveals the contraction is attributed to the formation of a triple bond and the absence of hydrogen functionalization. Time-dependent images reveal temporary attachment of a single atom to the arm-chair C-C bond in a triangular configuration, causing expansion of the bond length, which then returns back to the contracted value once the extra atom moves on and the arm-chair edge is returned. Our results provide confirmation that non-functionalized graphene edges can exist in vacuum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't