Graphene holes repair themselves
The team found that: ‘Nanoholes, etched under an electron beam at room temperature in single-layer graphene sheets as a result of their interaction with metal impurities, are shown to heal spontaneously by filling up with either nonhexagon, graphene-like, or perfect hexagon 2D structures.’
‘Scanning transmission electron microscopy was employed to capture the healing process and study atom-by-atom the regrown structure. A combination of these nanoscale etching and reknitting processes could lead to new graphene tailoring approaches,’ reports Nano Letters.
When they accidentally discovered the repairing phenomenon, the researchers were looking at the problems of adding metal contacts to graphene to exploit its electrical properties.
Doing this usually makes holes in the one atom-thick material, and the researchers were trying to understand this process when they realised that nearby random carbon atoms would place themselves in the holes in the graphene sheet effecting a repair.
Researchers said that they could connect strips of graphene, drill it, tailor it, sculpt it, and, now, repair it.