Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov have been awarded the highest accolade in the scientific world for their pioneering work with the world’s thinnest material, graphene, discovered at the University in 2004. It has rapidly become one of the hottest topics in materials science and solid-state physics.
Professor Robert Dryfe from the School of Chemistry is collaborating with Professor Novoselov and colleagues from the Schools of Computer Science (Dr Hill) and Materials (Dr Kinloch) to study the charge transfer process using this exceptional material. This research is funded by a new collaborative EPSRC grant ‘Graphene electrochemistry: understanding fundamental electron transfer at graphite electrodes’.
Dr Cinzia Casiraghi has just joined the School of Chemistry as a new Lecturer, her research interests lie in investigating the electronic and optical properties of carbon-based materials by Raman Spectroscopy. Dr Casiraghi is collaborating with Professor Novoselov on two projects to investigate the properties of graphene as a separation membrane and as an adaptive focus lens.
Professor Robert Dryfe – research on graphene:
There has been enormous interest in the last decade or so in the use of "nano-scale" carbon materials, both from the viewpoint of fundamental understanding of their properties and their technological exploitation. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) consist of rolled up 1-dimensional sheets of carbon atoms. Recently 2-dimensional carbon in the form of graphene (single graphite sheets), has been isolated. The structure of mono- and bi-layer graphene provides an ideal model system with which fundamental questions about charge transfer to/from carbons can be answered. The approach we are pursuing exploits the lead position held by the UK generally, and Manchester in particular, established by the experimental isolation of high purity graphene by Novoselov et al in 2004, which has culminated in the award of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics to Professors Novoselov and Geim. We are using graphene samples defined by lithographically etched windows to study the interfacial charge transfer characteristics of this exceptional material as a function of structure. Experimental work is supported with state-of-the-art computation, performed by our collaborators at the University of Sussex. This research is funded by an EPSRC grant ‘Graphene electrochemistry: understanding fundamental electron transfer at graphite electrodes’.
Dr Cinzia Casiraghi – research on graphene:
Graphene is a single sheet of graphite, but it shows properties completely different from graphite. Electrons flow through graphene, as if they were mass-less through the hexagonal lattice, without scattering, leading to a giant charge intrinsic mobility. This makes graphene an excellent candidate for making small electronic devices with superior performance. Raman Spectroscopy is a very useful technique for investigating the properties of graphene, this technique is not destructive, it is fast and it is very sensitive to the structure and chemistry of the material. We have shown that Raman Spectroscopy is able to distinguish graphene from graphite and few-layers graphene, it is able to probe the amount of doping, defects and the atomic arrangements at the graphene edges.
In collaboration with Professor Novoselov, we are currently investigating the use of graphene in two projects:
- Separation membrane: graphene is a strong, elastic and very sensitive membrane, which is also impermeable to gases. In this project we aim to use graphene membranes for cell, virus and macromolecules separation.
- Adaptive focus lens: graphene bubbles could be used as an adaptive focus lenses by combining the approaches of the fluidic lens and liquid-crystal lens. Graphene is a perfect candidate as membrane for making a fluid-filled lens because it is almost transparent in the visible spectrum, it is robust, impermeable to gases and cheap.