UIC chemical engineers first to functionalize boron nitride with other nanosystems

September 25, 2018

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered a route to alter boron nitride, a layered 2D material, so that it can bind to other materials, like those found in electronics, biosensors and airplanes, for example. Being able to better-incorporate boron nitride into these components could help dramatically improve their performance.

The scientific community has long been interested in boron nitride because of its unique properties --it is strong, ultrathin, transparent, insulating, lightweight and thermally conductive -- which, in theory, makes it a perfect material for use by engineers in a wide variety of applications. However, boron nitride's natural resistance to chemicals and lack of surface-level molecular binding sites have made it difficult for the material to interface with other materials used in these applications.

UIC's Vikas Berry and his colleagues are the first to report that treatment with a superacid causes boron nitride layers to separate into atomically thick sheets, while creating binding sites on the surface of these sheets that provide opportunities to interface with nanoparticles, molecules and other 2D nanomaterials, like graphene. This includes nanotechnologies that use boron nitride to insulate nano-circuits.

Their findings are published in ACS Nano, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

"Boron nitride is like a stack of highly sticky papers in a ream, and by treating this ream with chlorosulfonic acid, we introduced positive charges on the boron nitride layers that caused the sheets to repel each other and separate," said Berry, associate professor and head of chemical engineering at the UIC College of Engineering and corresponding author on the paper.

Berry said that "like magnets of the same polarity," these positively charged boron nitride sheets repel one another.

"We showed that the positive charges on the surfaces of the separated boron nitride sheets make it more chemically active," Berry said. "The protonation -- the addition of positive charges to atoms -- of internal and edge nitrogen atoms creates a scaffold to which other materials can bind."

Berry said that the opportunities for boron nitride to improve composite materials in next-generation applications are vast.

"Boron and nitrogen are on the left and the right of carbon on the periodic table and therefore, boron-nitride is isostructural and isoelectronic to carbon-based graphene, which is considered a 'wonder material,'" Berry said. This means these two materials are similar in their atomic crystal structure (isostructural) and their overall electron density (isoelectric), he said.

"We can potentially use this material in all kinds of electronics, like optoelectronic and piezoelectric devices, and in many other applications, from solar-cell passivation layers, which function as filters to absorb only certain types of light, to medical diagnostic devices," Berry said.
-end-
Co-authors on the study are Sanjay Behura of UIC; Kabeer Jasuja of the Indian Institute of Technology; and Kayum Ayinde, Christina Wilson, Myles Ikenberry, Keith Hon and David Moore of Kansas State University.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Related Graphene Articles from Brightsurf:

How to stack graphene up to four layers
IBS research team reports a novel method to grow multi-layered, single-crystalline graphene with a selected stacking order in a wafer scale.

Graphene-Adsorbate van der Waals bonding memory inspires 'smart' graphene sensors
Electric field modulation of the graphene-adsorbate interaction induces unique van der Waals (vdW) bonding which were previously assumed to be randomized by thermal energy after the electric field is turned off.

Graphene: It is all about the toppings
The way graphene interacts with other materials depends on how these materials are brought into contact with the graphene.

Discovery of graphene switch
Researchers at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) successfully developed the special in-situ transmission electron microscope technique to measure the current-voltage curve of graphene nanoribbon (GNR) with observing the edge structure and found that the electrical conductance of narrow GNRs with a zigzag edge structure abruptly increased above the critical bias voltage, indicating that which they are expected to be applied to switching devices, which are the smallest in the world.

New 'brick' for nanotechnology: Graphene Nanomesh
Researchers at Japan advanced institute of science and technology (JAIST) successfully fabricated suspended graphene nanomesh (GNM) by using the focused helium ion beam technology.

Flatter graphene, faster electrons
Scientists from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel developed a technique to flatten corrugations in graphene layers.

Graphene Flagship publishes handbook of graphene manufacturing
The EU-funded research project Graphene Flagship has published a comprehensive guide explaining how to produce and process graphene and related materials (GRMs).

How to induce magnetism in graphene
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechani-cal, electronic and optical properties.

Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets
New research by engineers at the University of Illinois combines atomic-scale experimentation with computer modeling to determine how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene -- a question that has eluded scientists since graphene was first isolated.

How do you know it's perfect graphene?
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered an indicator that reliably demonstrates a sample's high quality, and it was one that was hiding in plain sight for decades.

Read More: Graphene News and Graphene Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.