Excitation wavelength dependent fluorescence of graphene oxide controlled by strain†
Unlike conventional fluorophores, the fluorescence emission of graphene oxide (GO) sheets can shift hundreds of nanometers as the excitation wavelength increases. The excitation wavelength dependent fluorescence is referred to as a giant red-edge effect and originates in a local reorganization potential slowing down the solvation dynamics of the excited state to the same time scale as the fluorescence lifetime. The present work has discovered that out-of-plane strain in the graphene oxide sheet leads to the intra-layer interaction necessary to slow down the solvation time scale. The oxygen percentage, dopant percentage, disorder, and strain are correlated with the presence and extent of the red-edge effect in oxygen, boron, nitrogen, and fluorine doped graphene oxide. Of these commonly cited possibilities, only out-of-plane strain is directly correlated to the red-edge effect. Furthermore, it is shown that the extent of the red-edge effect, or how far the emission wavelength can shift with increasing excitation wavelength, can be tuned by the electronegativity of the dopant. The present work interprets why the giant red-edge effect is present in some GO sheets but not in other GO sheets.