PerspectiveChemistry

Stabilizing a C–H bond on graphene with sound

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Science  26 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6438, pp. 331-332
DOI: 10.1126/science.aax1980

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Summary

Unlike most other materials, graphene—a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice—contracts when heated (1). This unusual property is caused by the extreme asymmetry of the two-dimensional structure. When the carbon atoms vibrate thermally, they experience a strong in-plane restoring force and a weak out-of-plane restoring force. As a result, the out-of-plane vibrations have the larger amplitude, leading to a contraction of the graphene layer. On page 379 of this issue, Jiang et al. (2) show that this asymmetry also leads to an unusually efficient energy loss pathway in carbon-hydrogen (C–H) bond formation on graphene. The results demonstrate the existence of a previously unexplored pathway to energy loss in C–H bond formation and may provide a method to tune the properties of graphene through controlled C–H bond formation.