MANHATTAN BEACH, Kan., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- U.S. chemical engineers say they have discovered graphene is more useful in electronics applications if a gold ion solution is used as a growth catalyst.
Graphene is a carbon material only a single atom thick and discovered just five years ago, scientists said. In the recent study, Kansas State University Assistant Professor Vikas Berry and doctoral student Kabeer Jasuja said they placed graphene oxide sheets into a gold ion solution that had a growth catalyst.
"Graphene-derivatives act like swimming molecular carpets when in solution and exhibit fascinating physiochemical behavior," Berry said. "If we change the surface functionality or the concentration, we can control their properties."
They said they found that rather than distributing itself evenly over graphene, the gold formed snowflake-shaped islands they called nanostars on the sheets' surfaces.
"So we started exploring how these gold nanostars are formed," Berry said. "We found out that nanostars with no surface functionality are rather challenging to produce by other chemical processes. We can control the size of these nanostars and have characterized the mechanism of nucleation and growth of these nanostructures. It's similar to the mechanism that forms real snowflakes."
The study's findings are to appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Small.