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Chemical sensing with switchable transport channels in graphene grain boundaries

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journal contribution
posted on 13.01.2016 by P. Yasaei, B. Kumar, R. Hantehzadeh, M. Kayyalha, A. Baskin, N. Repnin, C. Wang, R.F. Klie, Y.P. Chen, P. Král, A. Salehi-Khojin
Grain boundaries can markedly affect the electronic, thermal, mechanical and optical properties of a polycrystalline graphene. While in many applications the presence of grain boundaries in graphene is undesired, here we show that they have an ideal structure for the detection of chemical analytes. We observe that an isolated graphene grain boundary has ~300 times higher sensitivity to the adsorbed gas molecules than a single-crystalline graphene grain. Our electronic structure and transport modelling reveal that the ultra-sensitivity in grain boundaries is caused by a synergetic combination of gas molecules accumulation at the grain boundary, together with the existence of a sharp onset energy in the transmission spectrum of its conduction channels. The discovered sensing platform opens up new pathways for the design of nanometre-scale highly sensitive chemical detectors.

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A.S.-K.’s work was supported by the University of Illinois at Chicago through the Startup budget. The acquisition of the UIC JEOL JEM-ARM200CF is supported by a MRI-R2 grant from the National Science Foundation [DMR-0959470]. P.K.’s work was supported by the NSF-DMR Grant No. 1309765. This research used resources of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center, supported by the Office of Science of the US Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231, and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), supported by the National Science Foundation Grant No. OCI-1053575. M.K. and Y.P.C. acknowledge partial support from DTRA.

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This is a copy of an article published in Nature Communications © 2014 Nature Publishing Group Publications. © The Authors. | www.nature.com/naturecommunications

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Nature Publishing Group

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01/09/2014

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