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Direct Real-Time Monitoring of Stage Transitions in Graphite Intercalation Compounds

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posted on 19.02.2016, 16:10 by Ayrat M. Dimiev, Gabriel Ceriotti, Natnael Behabtu, Dante Zakhidov, Matteo Pasquali, Riichiro Saito, James M. Tour
Graphite intercalation compounds (GIC) possess a broad range of unique properties that are not specific to the parent materials. While the stage transition, changing the number of graphene layers sandwiched between the two layers of intercalant, is fundamentally important and has been theoretically addressed, experimental studies revealed only macroscopic parameters. On the microscale, the phenomenon remains elusive up to the present day. Here we monitor directly in real time the stage transitions using a combination of optical microscopy and Raman spectroscopy. These direct observations yield several mechanistic conclusions. While we obtained strong experimental evidence in support of the Daumas–Herold theory, we find that the conventional interpretation of stage transitions as sliding of the existing intercalant domains does not sufficiently capture the actual phenomena. The entire GIC structure transforms considerably during the stage transition. Among other observations, massive wavefront-like perturbations occur on the graphite surface, which we term the tidal wave effect.