Nam receives NSF grant to research tunable surface energy of graphene
MechSE assistant professor SungWoo Nam has received an NSF Division of Materials Research (DMR) Electronic and Photonic Materials (EPM) grant for his work studying how electrical doping affects surface energy and reactivity of graphene.
Graphene is the basic structural element of graphite, carbon nanotubes, and fullerene. Unlike conventional materials, graphene’s surface energy and reactivity can be dynamically tuned by electrical doping without negatively impacting its intrinsic properties. In his recent work in Nano Letters, Nam, collaborating with Professor Narayana Aluru, demonstrated the first step on how electrical doping of graphene can affect one aspect of surface energy, i.e., water contact angle (WCA) of graphene.
According to Nam, the interactions between delocalized π electrons in graphene and external molecules can be used to determine the surface energy and reactivity of graphene. By doping, Nam hypothesizes, the electronic state can be changed and allow for manipulation of graphene’s surface characteristics.
The main goals of the proposed research are the explanation and application of this technology, with the propensity to develop improved corrosion and oxidation resistant coatings, sensing, condensation heat transfer, battery and supercapacitator efficiency, and microfluidics. This knowledge could increase productivity and efficiency in energy, manufacturing and health sectors.
Both experimentation and theoretical calculation will be incorporated into their research with methods such as atomic force microscopy, electron microscopy, spectroscopic characterizations, and quantum, atomistic, and reactive molecular dynamics calculations.