Graphene is a new class of promising material with exceptional properties and thus warrants a plethora of potential applications in various domains of science and technology. However, due to intrinsic zero bandgap and inherently low solubility, a prerequisite for the use of graphene in several applications is its controlled and reproducible functionalization in a nanostructured fashion. Being a ‘surface-only’ nanomaterial, its properties are extremely sensitive not only to chemical modification but also to noncovalent interactions with simple organic molecules. A systematic knowledge base for targeted functionalization of graphene still eludes the scientific community. The present experimental protocols suffer from important shortcomings. Firstly, graphene functionalization occurs randomly in solution based methods and there is scarcity of methods that can exert precise control over how and where the reactions/interactions occur. Secondly, due to random functionalization, producing reproducible samples of structurally uniform graphene and graphitic materials remains a major challenge. Lastly, a molecular level understanding of the functionalization process is still lacking which precludes systematic strategies for manipulation of graphene and graphitic materials.
NANOGRAPH@LSI aims to develop systematic experimental protocols for controlled and reproducible (covalent, non-covalent as well as the combination of both) functionalization of graphene and graphitic materials in a nanostructured fashion at the liquid-solid interface (LSI), along with the implementation of new nanoscale characterisation tools, targeting a broad range of applications in the fields of electronics, i.e. graphene bandgap engineering, sensing, and separation. Supramolecular self-assembly of organic building blocks at the liquid-solid interface will be employed as a basic strategy. In view of the above mentioned applications, also upscaling protocols will be developed and implemented.
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