Issue 10, 2019

Micromechanical exfoliation of graphene on the atomistic scale


Mechanical exfoliation techniques are widely used to create high quality graphene samples for analytical use. Increasingly, mechanical methods are used to create large quantities of graphene, yet there is surprisingly little molecular insight into the mechanisms involved. We study the exfoliation of graphene with sticky tape using molecular dynamics. This is made possible by using a recently developed molecular dynamics forcefield, GraFF, to represent graphene's dispersion interactions. For nano-sized flakes we observe two different mechanisms depending on the polymer-adhesive used. A peeling mechanism which mixes shearing and normal mode exfoliation promotes synthesis of graphene rather than many-layered graphite. Armed with this new chemical insight we discuss the experimental methods that could preferentially produce graphene by mechanical exfoliation. We also introduce a mathematical model describing the repeated exfoliation of graphite.

Graphical abstract: Micromechanical exfoliation of graphene on the atomistic scale

Supplementary files

Article information

Article type
21 Dec 2018
06 Feb 2019
First published
25 Feb 2019
This article is Open Access
Creative Commons BY license

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2019,21, 5716-5722

Micromechanical exfoliation of graphene on the atomistic scale

R. C. Sinclair, J. L. Suter and P. V. Coveney, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2019, 21, 5716 DOI: 10.1039/C8CP07796G

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can use material from this article in other publications without requesting further permissions from the RSC, provided that the correct acknowledgement is given.

Read more about how to correctly acknowledge RSC content.

Social activity