Swelling properties of graphite oxides and graphene oxide multilayered materials
Graphite oxide (GtO) and graphene oxide (GO) multilayered laminates are hydrophilic materials easily intercalated by water and other polar solvents. By definition, an increase in the volume of a material connected to the uptake of a liquid or vapour is named swelling. Swelling is a property which defines graphite oxides and graphene oxides. Less oxidized materials not capable of swelling should be named oxidized graphene. The infinite swelling of graphite oxide yields graphene oxide in aqueous dispersions. Graphene oxide sheets dispersed in a polar solvent can be re-assembled into multilayered structures and named depending on applications as films, papers or membranes. The multilayered GO materials exhibit swelling properties which are mostly similar to those of graphite oxides but not identical and in some cases surprisingly different. Swelling is a key property of GO materials in all applications which involve the sorption of water/solvents from vapours, immersion of GO into liquid water/solvents and solution based chemical reactions. These applications include sensors, sorption/removal of pollutants from waste waters, separation of liquid and gas mixtures, nanofiltration, water desalination, water-permeable protective coatings, etc. Swelling defines the distance between graphene oxide sheets in solution-immersed GO materials and the possibility for penetration of ions and molecules inside of interlayers. A high sorption capacity of GO towards many molecules and cations is defined by swelling which makes the very high surface area of GO accessible. GtO and GO swelling is a surprisingly complex phenomenon which is manifested in a variety of different ways. Swelling is strongly different for materials produced using the most common Brodie and Hummers oxidation procedures; it depends on the degree of oxidation, ad temperature and pressure conditions. The value of the GO interlayer distance is especially important in membrane applications. Diffusion of solvent molecules and ions is defined by the size of “permeation channels” provided by the swelled GO structure. According to extensive studies performed over the last decade the exact value of the inter-layer distance in swelled GO depends on the nature of solvent, temperature and pressure conditions, and the pH and concentration of solutions and exhibits pronounced aging effects. This review provides insight into the fundamental swelling properties of multilayered GO and demonstrates links to advanced applications of these materials.
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