Silicon as a ubiquitous contaminant in graphene derivatives with significant impact on device performance

Rouhollah Jalili, Dorna Esrafilzadeh, Seyed Hamed Aboutalebi, Ylias M. Sabri, Ahmad E. Kandjani, Suresh K. Bhargava, Enrico Della Gaspera, Thomas R. Gengenbach, Ashley Walker, Yunfeng Chao, Caiyun Wang, Hossein Alimadadi, David R.G. Mitchell, David L. Officer, Douglas R. MacFarlane, Gordon G. Wallace

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Silicon-based impurities are ubiquitous in natural graphite. However, their role as a contaminant in exfoliated graphene and their influence on devices have been overlooked. Herein atomic resolution microscopy is used to highlight the existence of silicon-based contamination on various solution-processed graphene. We found these impurities are extremely persistent and thus utilising high purity graphite as a precursor is the only route to produce silicon-free graphene. These impurities are found to hamper the effective utilisation of graphene in whereby surface area is of paramount importance. When non-contaminated graphene is used to fabricate supercapacitor microelectrodes, a capacitance value closest to the predicted theoretical capacitance for graphene is obtained. We also demonstrate a versatile humidity sensor made from pure graphene oxide which achieves the highest sensitivity and the lowest limit of detection ever reported. Our findings constitute a vital milestone to achieve commercially viable and high performance graphene-based devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5070
Number of pages13
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

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