Graphene oxide (GO) is an interesting material that has the potential for a wide range of applications. Critical for these applications are the type of oxygen bond and its spatial distribution on the individual GO sheets. This distribution is not yet well understood. Few techniques offer a resolution high enough to unambiguously identify oxygen configuration. We used a new, label free spectroscopic technique to map oxygen bonding on GO, with spatial resolution of nanometres and high chemical specificity. AFM-IR, atomic force microscopy coupled with infrared spectroscopy, overcomes conventional IR diffraction limits, producing IR spectra from specific points as well as chemical maps that are coupled to topography. We have directly observed oxygen bonding preferentially on areas where graphene is folded, in discrete domains and on edges of GO. From these observations, we propose an updated structural model for GO, with C[dbnd]O on its edge and plane, which confirms parts of earlier proposed models. The results have interesting implications. Determining atomic position and configuration from precise imaging offers the possibility to link nanoscale structure and composition with material function, paving the way for targeted tethering of ions, polymers and biomaterials.
Liu, Z., Nørgaard, K., Overgaard, M. H., Ceccato, M., Mackenzie, D. M. A., Stenger, N., Stipp, S. L. S., & Hassenkam, T. (2018). Direct observation of oxygen configuration on individual graphene oxide sheets. Carbon, 127, 141-148. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.carbon.2017.10.100