We report a novel physicochemical route to produce highly crystalline nitrogen-doped graphene nanoribbons. The technique consists of an abrupt N 2 gas expansion within the hollow core of nitrogen-doped multiwalled carbon nanotubes (CN x-MWNTs) when exposed to a fast thermal shock. The multiwalled nanotube unzipping mechanism is rationalized using molecular dynamics and density functional theory simulations, which highlight the importance of open-ended nanotubes in promoting the efficient introduction of N 2 molecules by capillary action within tubes and surface defects, thus triggering an efficient and atomically smooth unzipping. The so-produced nanoribbons could be few-layered (from graphene bilayer onward) and could exhibit both crystalline zigzag and armchair edges. In contrast to methods developed previously, our technique presents various advantages: (1) the tubes are not heavily oxidized; (2) the method yields sharp atomic edges within the resulting nanoribbons; (3) the technique could be scaled up for the bulk production of crystalline nanoribbons from available MWNT sources; and (4) this route could eventually be used to unzip other types of carbon nanotubes or intercalated layered materials such as BN, MoS 2, WS 2, etc.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)