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Understanding energy transfer mechanisms in graphene derivatives is strongly motivated by the unusually interesting electronic properties of graphene, which can provide a template for the creation of novel nanostructured derivatives. From a synthetic point of view, it is highly attractive to envision being able to synthesize pristine graphene from precursors such as graphene oxide (GO). While this goal may be challenging over large length-scales, it is possible to generate regions of graphene at the nanoscale, confirmed by Raman spectroscopy or other methods. We describe an in situ method of nucleating gold or palladium nanoparticles in the presence of ethylene glycol as a reducing agent, while simultaneously reducing GO to graphene. The Aunanoparticles aid in spectroscopic characterization by both quenching fluorescence, allowing the graphene D and G bands to be quantified, and yielding a surface enhancement of about two orders of magnitude. We observe the excitation profile (488–785 nm) of the surface enhanced Raman spectrum (SERS) of graphene with Aunanoparticles adsorbed on the surface. Both the D and G bands display a resonance at approximately 593 nm (2.09 eV). This resonance may be interpreted as a combination of the plasmon resonance at 548 nm and a likely contribution from charge transfer as well. In addition, we observe a stiffening of the G band compared with that of graphene. The mechanism of the SERS, whether plasmonic or charge transfer-based, enables insight into the electronic pathways available to the graphene–nanoparticle system. We discuss our results in the context of several existing studies of graphene-based nanostructure derivatives.
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