Shielding the chemical reactivity using graphene layers for controlling the surface properties of carbon materials†
Graphene can efficiently shield chemical interactions and gradually decrease the binding to reactive defect areas. In the present study, we have used the observed graphene shielding effect to control the reactivity patterns on the carbon surface. The experimental findings show that a surface coating with a tiny carbon layer of 1–2 nm thickness is sufficient to shield the defect-mediated reactivity and create a surface with uniform binding ability. The shielding effect was directly observed using a combination of microscopy techniques and evaluated with computational modeling. The theoretical calculations indicate that a few graphene layers can drastically reduce the binding energy of the metal centers to the surface defects by 40–50 kcal mol−1. The construction of large carbon areas with controlled surface reactivity is extremely difficult, which is a key limitation in many practical applications. Indeed, the developed approach provides a flexible and simple tool to change the reactivity patterns on large surface areas within a few minutes.