Issue Date: February 2, 2009
Graphene—one-atom-thick sheets of carbon that make up graphite—is a potentially useful electronic conductor that was thought to be relatively inert. Now, researchers have shown that graphene can react with hydrogen to form graphane—an electronic insulator (Science 2008, 323, 610). The discovery unlocks the possibility of using graphene in hydrogen-fuel technologies and nanoelectronics, writes Alexander K. Savchenko of the U.K.'s University of Exeter in a commentary in Science. Andre K. Geim and Kostya S. Novoselov of the University of Manchester, in the U.K., and colleagues synthesized graphane by exposing graphene to hydrogen ions in a hydrogen plasma. On the basis of transmission electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy analysis, they determined that graphane retains graphene's hexagonal structure but is more compressed. Attaching hydrogen to graphene changes the hybridization of the material's carbon atoms and alters its crystallographic and electronic properties, Novoselov says. Annealing graphane restores graphene's original structure and properties. Novoselov adds that these results create a new direction for fine-tuning graphene's electronic properties by attaching functional groups to the carbon skeleton.
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