Nano-sized graphene flakes: insights from experimental synthesis and first principles calculations†
In this study, we proposed a cost-effective method for preparing graphene nano-flakes (GNFs) derived from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) via three steps (pressing, homogenization and sonication exfoliation processes). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), laser scattering, as well as ultraviolet-visible and photoluminescence (PL) measurements were carried out. The results indicated that the size of as-synthesized GNFs was approximately 40–50 nm. Furthermore, we also used first principles calculations to understand the transformation from CNTs to GNFs from the viewpoints of the edge formation energies of GNFs in different shapes and sizes. The corresponding photoluminescence measurements of GNFs were carried out in this work.