Flower-like defects in graphene: a curse or a blessing in disguise?

Graphene is often hailed as the holy grail of nanomaterials, whether on its own or in combination with materials like molybdenum. Not only is it capable of conducting electrons almost without resistance, it also has remarkable mechanical properties such as high strength. But in reality the material often has defects that affect its electronic and mechanical properties.

A paper published in the journal Physical Review B describes seven related potential defect structures in sheets of graphene that assume a flower-like form. These defects may arise to help relieve stress in graphene’s honeycomb structure that arises in the production of the material. The fabrication process plays a key role in creating the defects. New graphene growth techniques may be able to eliminate the occurrence of such defects.

But defects like these might also prove to be a blessing in disguise. First of all understanding just how graphene sheets rip apart is an interesting question that has important implications for its mechanical uses.  Secondly, studying the defects may teach us whether their formation can be controlled, which may create even more possibilities for the application of graphene.

© Jorn van Dooren | www.bitsofscience.org

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