In this project funded by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the Chemistry Division, Mingdi Yan of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell will develop a general method to derivatize graphene and potentially achieve spatial selectivity. The potential of graphene to revolutionize electronics, photonics, and nanocomposite materials has been hampered by the availability and processability of graphene materials. The approach is to photolyze/thermalyze perfluorophenyl azide and its derivatives in the presence of graphene. The transient singlet perfluorphenyl nitrene will undergo a [2+1] cycloaddition with graphene pi-bonds to form aziridine groups on the graphene surface, and there is the potential for selectivity towards pi-bonds at the edge of the graphene sheet. The location of the functional groups will be determined by further derivatization with nanoparticles or C60 and imaging using AFM and TEM. The broader impacts include training female undergraduates and high school girls by engaging them in research, introducing them to strong role models, and dispelling myths surrounding careers for women in STEM. A new science course will be established at a local high school, targeting female students who may not otherwise take STEM courses in high school.
This work would advance fundamental knowledge about attaching chemical species to graphene, a sheet-like material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms. The methods developed would allow the preparation of unique electronic materials that could have significant impacts on the fields of electronics and composite materials.