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Formation of Two-Dimensional Micelles on Graphene: Multi-Scale Theoretical and Experimental Study

Robinson, Benjamin J.; Bailey, Steven W.D.; O’Driscoll, Luke J.; Visontai, David; Welsh, Daniel J.; Mostert, Albertus B.; Mazzocco, Riccardo; Rabot, Caroline; Jarvis, Samuel P.; Kolosov, Oleg V.; Bryce, Martin R.; Lambert, Colin

Formation of Two-Dimensional Micelles on Graphene: Multi-Scale Theoretical and Experimental Study Thumbnail


Benjamin J. Robinson

Steven W.D. Bailey

Luke J. O’Driscoll

David Visontai

Daniel J. Welsh

Albertus B. Mostert

Riccardo Mazzocco

Caroline Rabot

Samuel P. Jarvis

Oleg V. Kolosov

Colin Lambert


Graphene and related two-dimensional (2D) materials possess outstanding electronic and mechanical properties, chemical stability, and high surface area. However, to realize graphene’s potential for a range of applications in materials science and nanotechnology there is a need to understand and control the interaction of graphene with tailored high-performance surfactants designed to facilitate the preparation, manipulation, and functionalization of new graphene systems. Here we report a combined experimental and theoretical study of the surface structure and dynamics on graphene of pyrene-oligoethylene glycol (OEG) -based surfactants, which have previously been shown to disperse carbon nanotubes in water. Molecular self-assembly of the surfactants on graphitic surfaces is experimentally monitored and optimized using a graphene coated quartz crystal microbalance in ambient and vacuum environments. Real-space nanoscale resolution nanomechanical and topographical mapping of submonolayer surfactant coverage, using ultrasonic and atomic force microscopies both in ambient and ultrahigh vacuum, reveals complex, multilength-scale self-assembled structures. Molecular dynamics simulations show that at the nanoscale these structures, on atomically flat graphitic surfaces, are dependent upon the surfactant OEG chain length and are predicted to display a previously unseen class of 2D self-arranged “starfish” micelles (2DSMs). While three-dimensional micelles are well-known for their widespread uses ranging from microreactors to drug-delivery vehicles, these 2DSMs possess the highly desirable and tunable characteristics of high surface affinity coupled with unimpeded mobility, opening up strategies for processing and functionalizing 2D materials.


Robinson, B. J., Bailey, S. W., O’Driscoll, L. J., Visontai, D., Welsh, D. J., Mostert, A. B., …Lambert, C. (2017). Formation of Two-Dimensional Micelles on Graphene: Multi-Scale Theoretical and Experimental Study. ACS Nano, 11(3), 3404-3412.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 10, 2017
Online Publication Date Mar 10, 2017
Publication Date Mar 28, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 4, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 5, 2017
Journal ACS Nano
Print ISSN 1936-0851
Electronic ISSN 1936-086X
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 3
Pages 3404-3412
Public URL


Published Journal Article (496 Kb)

Publisher Licence URL

Copyright Statement
ACS AuthorChoice - This is an open access article published under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the author and source are cited.

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