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A quantitative analysis of the dispersion behavior of reduced graphene oxide in solvents

Ayán-Varela, M., Paredes, J.I., Villar-Rodil, S., Rozada, R., Martínez-Alonso, A., Tascón, J.M.D.
Carbon 2014 v.75 pp. 390-400
alcohols, dispersibility, graphene, graphene oxide, liquids, oxidation, quantitative analysis, solubility, solvents
Detailed knowledge of the dispersion behavior of reduced graphene oxide (RGO) in solvents is important for its practical applications. Such behavior is expected to be different to that observed for pristine graphene, as a result of the chemically heterogeneous structure of RGO (patchwork of pristine and highly oxidized graphene domains). We have investigated the dispersibility of RGO in a wide range of solvents and analyzed the results on the basis of solvent surface energies and Hansen solubility parameters. Although RGO exhibited some features that are characteristic of pristine graphene, its dispersion behavior was dominated by its oxidized graphene domains, with alcohols being commonly the most successful solvents. Estimates of the effective Hansen parameters for RGO derived from the experimental data (δD≈16.9MPa¹/², δP≈10.7MPa¹/² and δH≈14.1MPa¹/²) were consistent with this view and afforded the rational design of solvent mixtures that surpassed the best single-component solvents in terms of dispersed amount of RGO. RGO–polymer composites could then be readily prepared in the best performing solvents. Overall, the present results provide a guide to the processing of RGO in the liquid phase with practical utility in the preparation of different graphene-based materials.