Experimental and computational investigation of reduced graphene oxide nanoplatelets stabilized in poly(styrene sulfonate) sodium salt
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The production of large-area interfaces and the use of scalable methods to build up designed nanostructures generating advanced functional properties are of high interest for many materials science applications. Nevertheless, large-area coverage remains a major problem even for pristine graphene, and here we present a hybrid, composite graphene-like material soluble in water that can be exploited in many areas such as energy storage, electrodes fabrication, selective membranes and biosensing. Graphene oxide (GO) was produced by the traditional Hummers’ method being further reduced in the presence of poly(styrene sulfonate) sodium salt (PSS), thus creating stable reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanoplatelets wrapped by PSS (GPSS). Molecular dynamics simulations were carried out to further clarify the interactions between PSS molecules and rGO nanoplatelets, with calculations supported by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis. The intermolecular forces between rGO nanoplatelets and PSS lead to the formation of a hybrid material (GPSS) stabilized by van der Waals forces, allowing the fabrication of high-quality layer-by-layer (LbL) films with poly(allylamine hydrochloride) (PAH). Raman and electrical characterizations corroborated the successful modifications in the electronic structures from GO to GPSS after the chemical treatment, resulting in (PAH/GPSS) LbL films four orders of magnitude more conductive than (PAH/GO).