Quantitative analysis of structure and bandgap changes in graphene oxide nanoribbons during thermal annealing
Graphene oxide nanoribbons (GONRs) are wide bandgap semiconductors that can be reduced to metallic graphene nanoribbons. The transformation of GONRs from their semiconductive to the metallic state by annealing has attracted significant interest due to its simplicity. However, the detailed process by which GONRs transform from widebandgap semiconductors to semimetals with a near zero bandgap is unclear. As a result, precise control of the bandgap between these two states is not currently achievable. Here, we quantitatively examine the removal of oxygen-containing groups and changes in the bandgap during thermal annealing of GONRs. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy measurements show the progressive removal of oxygen-containing functional groups. Aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy reveals that initially small graphene regions in GONRs become large stacked graphitic layers during thermal annealing. These structural and chemical changes are correlated with progressive changes in the electrochemical bandgap, monitored by cyclic voltammetry. These results show that small changes in the thermal annealing temperature result in significant changes to the bandgap and chemical composition of GONRs and provide a straightforward method for tuning the bandgap in oxidized graphene structures.