Chemical sensing with switchable transport channels in graphene grain boundaries
PublisherNature Publishing Group
MetadataShow full item record
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.