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The results indicate a first ever hypothesized role of sulfur in the low temperature formation of graphene. Multilayer graphene was prepared with various hydrocarbons and sulfur mixtures by the University of Idaho Thermolyzed Asphalt Reaction (UITAR). Graphene films were synthesized with the UITAR process through the original flame-heated crucible, and in thermogravimetric analysis apparatuses. The latter was carried out under N2 purge. The morphology of these films synthesized by cyclohexanol and sulfur was characterized by scanning electron, transmission electron, and atomic force microscopies, which indicate a flat (over several mm2) and layered structure consistent with graphitic structures. Elemental composition as determined by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy indicated primarily sp2 C with trace O and N impurities. Raman spectra of the UITARgraphene have D and G bands at 1350 cm−1 and 1594 cm−1. Based on the wavenumber positions of these bands, the Ferrari amorphization trajectory indicates that the UITARgraphene films are primarily sp2 C with nano-crystalline characteristics. The I(D)/I(G) ratio is 0.97 with an average grain size of 5 nm as determined by the Tuinstra–Koenig relationship. A proposed scheme illustrates the role of sulfur in graphenegrowth based on thermogravimetric analyses. We hypothesize that elemental sulfur is involved with the dehydration/dehydrogenation and eventual crosslinking of cyclohexanol between 100 and 140 °C. In the range of 240–400 °C further dehydrogenation steps occur giving an unidentified intermediate with a sharp Raman peak at 1450 cm−1. At 550 °C a mixture of graphene-like Raman D and G bands appear with the 1450 cm−1 intermediate. At 600 °C the intermediate peak is lost with only bands characteristic of UITARgraphene. Therefore the minimum temperature of graphene formation with the UITAR reaction is 600 °C. The proposed mechanism is reinforced by results with other hydrocarbons. Other organics succeeded or failed in the UITAR reaction based on melting and boiling considerations.
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Journal of Materials Chemistry
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