• Arun Prakash Aranga Raju

Student thesis: Phd


Graphene, a single layer of graphite, owing to its excellent mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties, has evolved as an exceptional nanomaterial in the past decade. It holds great promise in developing various novel applications from biomedical to structural composites. However, several challenges remain in realising the great potential of this material; one being the bulk scale production of graphene. This thesis has been concerned with production of pristine few-layer graphene (FLG) using liquid phase exfoliation (LPE) of graphite in various solvent media and exploring the applications of graphene-based composite coatings as optical Raman-strain sensors.LPE of natural graphite using bath sonication was used to produce highly stable pristine FLG in 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone (NMP) and N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF). Atomic force microscope (AFM) was used to analyse the exfoliation efficiency and lateral dimensions, while Raman spectroscopy provided an insight about the quality of the graphene flakes. Moreover, the potential for dynamic light scattering (DLS) as an efficient in situ characterisation technique for estimating the lateral dimensions of graphene flakes in dispersions was demonstrated.LPE was also employed to explore various routes to produce pristine graphene in aqueous media which can be used for toxicity studies. Aqueous dispersions were prepared by a solvent exchange method of graphene originally in organic solvents (NMP and DMF) using dialysis, achieving 0.1 v/v% organic solvent levels. Pristine aqueous graphene dispersions were also prepared by directly exfoliating graphite in biocompatible surfactant (TDOC- Sodium taurodeoxycholate) and biomolecules (Phosphatidylcholine and human serum albumin) solutions. Cell culture studies by collaborators revealed that solvent-exchanged and TDOC-exfoliated pristine FLG displayed minimal toxicity and albumin-exfoliated FLG hardly any cytotoxicity, whereas phosphatidylcholine-exfoliated FLG was cytotoxic.Raman spectroscopy is a well-established technique used to study the local deformation of carbon-based composites by following the shift rates of the Raman 2D band with strain. Raman active strain coatings were produced from epoxy composites made with the FLG produced by LPE in organic solvents and by electrochemical exfoliation method. The deformation experiments on these coatings revealed little or no strain sensitivity, due to several factors such as length of flakes, processing history, graphene loading, defects in graphene and alignment of flakes within the composites. As an alternative, composite coatings made from chemical vapour deposition (CVD) graphene were investigated. Excellent strain sensitivity was observed upon various cyclic deformational sequences and Raman mapping over 100 × 100 µm area. In comparison to the commercially available wide area strain sensors, CVD graphene composite coatings with a calculated absolute accuracy of ~ ± 0.01 % strain and absolute resolution of ~ 27 microstrains show promise for wide area Raman-based strains sensors.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorIan Kinloch (Supervisor)


  • Graphene
  • Liquid Phase Exfoliation
  • Raman Spectroscopy
  • Strain Sensors
  • Composite Coatings

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