From the Nobel prize-winning team who brought you the honeycomb structure sheet of carbon atoms that is graphene, comes the sequel: Fluoro-graphene: 2D Teflon.
Kostya Novoselov and Andre Geim led an international team of scientists modify a sheet of graphene so that it became an insulator. By placing an atom of fluorine at every carbon atom, the researchers were able to disrupt the electron cloud and prevent electricity from flowing across the lattice. The work is described in the journal Small.
Previous attempts to destroy graphene's electron cloud by inserting hydrogen atoms alongside each carbon atom were successful, but created a material that lost its structural integrity at high temperatures.
The major challenge was to find a way of fluorinating the carbon without destroying it: fluorine is a highly reactive gas, and will corrode just about anything. Raveendran-Nair says that the trick was accomplished by fluorinating the graphene on a chemically inert support grid and bulk graphene paper.
Rahul Raveendran-Nair, a postgraduate researcher at the University of Manchester involved in the publication, says he sees a future for the atom-thick insulator – which retains graphene’s phenomenal structural strength - in electronics. He notes that work still needs to be done to improve its electronic quality: “We hope this can be achieved very soon. Some possible electronic applications of fluorographene are its use as a tunnel barrier and as a high-quality insulator or barrier material for organic electronics.”