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Surface Engineering of Graphene Quantum Dots and Their Applications as Efficient Surfactants

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journal contribution
posted on 29.04.2015, 00:00 authored by Han-Hee Cho, Hyunseung Yang, Dong Jin Kang, Bumjoon J. Kim
The surface properties of graphene quantum dots (GQDs) control their dispersion and location within the matrices of organic molecules and polymers, thereby determining various properties of the hybrid materials. Herein, we developed a facile, one-step method for achieving systematic control of the surface properties of highly fluorescent GQDs. The surfaces of the as-synthesized hydrophilic GQDs were modified precisely depending on the number of grafted hydrophobic hexylamine. The geometry of the modified GQDs was envisioned by conducting simulations using density functional theory. In stark contrast to the pristine GQDs, the surface-modified GQDs can effectively stabilize oil-in-water Pickering emulsions and submicron-sized colloidal particles in mini-emulsion polymerization. These versatile GQD surfactants were also employed in liquid–solid systems; we demonstrated their use for tailoring the dispersion of graphite in methanol. Finally, the particles produced by the GQD surfactants were fluorescent due to luminescence of the GQDs, which offers great potential for various applications, including fluorescent sensors and imaging.