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Why is Characterizing Graphene So Damn Hard?

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, June 21, 2019

Graphene materials are notoriously difficult to characterize despite the many different techniques available today, including Raman Spectroscopy, TEM, SEM, BET, XPS, AFM and others depending on what aspect of the material you are looking to understand. 

In addition, different types and forms of graphene will lend themselves to some test and less so for others. For example, it will make a significant difference in the test and testing procedure if you are working with CVD mono-layer graphene or multi-layer graphene nanoplatelets, not to mention Graphene Oxide (GO) or a reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO). 

Is the material in a dry powder form, in solution or is it in a paste? Has it been treated with a surfactant? Has it been functionalized and if so with which molecules? 

Layered on top of these challenges is the fact that you are often testing just an incredibly small fraction of a production run. Is the sample representative to begin with? And once you are running your test are you just looking at a few isolated flakes or are you looking at the full sample set? 

Add all of this together and it becomes quite clear that proper testing of graphene material, especially in an industrial production setting, is expensive and time consuming. 

There is a tremendous need therefore for new testing methodologies that can test graphene batches and larger sample sizes in a way that is still meaningful and useful without being overly expensive. Oh, and it should be fast and not subject to complicated preparation procedures nor wide margins of uncertainty.

Are you using XRD for Graphene Characterization? 

One method that has been used is XRD (X-Ray Diffractometer), however it is not one of the more commonly used tests for graphene characterization at this point. 

The Graphene Council would like to start a discussion to help understand if XRD could be used more frequently for reliable graphene testing. 

We kindly ask you to send me your comments to this post and answer the following questions in your own words;

Q. What are the benefits of using XRD to test dry bulk samples of graphene materials (in all forms of commercially available materials) and what are its most obvious limitations? 


(Two papers have been linked above [click on the images] for reference.)

We will collect the replies and put them together in an article for the community. 

Thank you in advance for contributing to our understanding of whether XRD could be a candidate for broader use as a measurement technique for graphene characterization. 



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