Nature chemistry

Covalent bulk functionalization of graphene.

PMID 21430685


Graphene, a truly two-dimensional and fully π-conjugated honeycomb carbon network, is currently evolving into the most promising successor to silicon in micro- and nanoelectronic applications. However, its wider application is impeded by the difficulties in opening a bandgap in its gapless band-structure, as well as the lack of processability in the resultant intrinscially insoluble material. Covalent chemical modification of the π-electron system is capable of addressing both of these issues through the introduction of variable chemical decoration. Although there has been significant research activity in the field of functionalized graphene, most work to date has focused on the use of graphene oxide. In this Article, we report on the first wet chemical bulk functionalization route beginning with pristine graphite that does not require initial oxidative damage of the graphene basal planes. Through effective reductive activation, covalent functionalization of the charged graphene is achieved by organic diazonium salts. Functionalization was observed spectroscopically, and successfully prevents reaggregation while providing solubility in common organic media.