Graphite is an allotrope of carbon made up of atomically thin sheets, each covalently bound together, forming a π-conjugated network. An individual layer, called graphene, has extraordinary electrical, thermal and physical properties that provide the opportunity for innovating new functional composites. Graphene can be produced directly on a metallic substrate by chemical vapor deposition or by chemical oxidation of graphite, forming a stable aqueous suspension of graphene oxide (GO), which allows for convenient solution processing techniques. For the latter, after thermal or chemical reduction, much of the properties of the starting graphene re-emerge due to the reestablishment of π-conjugation. The ?-conjugated basal plane of graphene has been shown to influence the crystallization of ?-conjugated polymers, providing thermodynamically strong nucleation sites through the relatively strong π-π interactions. These polymers can homocrystallize into 1-D filaments, but when nucleated from graphene, the orientation and geometry can be controlled producing hierarchical structures containing an electrical conductor decorated with wires of semi-conducting polymer. The resulting structures and crystallization kinetics of the conjugated polymer, poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) (P3HT) nucleated by graphene was studied. Further, field-effect transistors were developed using graphene as both the electrodes and the polymer crystallization surface to directly grow P3HT nanowires as the active material. This direct crystallization technique lead to higher charge mobility and higher on-off ratios, and this result was interpreted in terms of the morphology and polymer-graphene interface. Besides these thin-film technologies, neat GO suspensions can be lyophilized to produce monolithic, free-standing aerogels and then reduced to produce an electrically conductive porous material with a surface area greater than 1000 m2/g. The present research focuses on functionalizing the aerogel surfaces with metal nanoparticles to increase electrical conductivity and to impart functionality. Functionalization was carried out by adding a metal salt as a precursor and a chelating agent to inhibit GO flocculation. The GO and metal salt were simultaneously reduced to form rGO aerogels homogeneously loaded with metal nanoparticles. The size and distribution of these nanoparticles was controlled by concentration and chelating agent identity and abundance. Optimum aerogel formulations were used as a functioning and reversible conductometric hydrogen gas sensor and as an anode in an asymmetric supercapacitor with excellent properties.


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Graduation Date





Zhai, Lei


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



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Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until 2-15-2017; it will then be open access.

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Chemistry Commons