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Nature Materials

  • Carbon-Based Materials

Preferential Self-Healing at Grain Boundaries in Plasma-Treated Graphene

Authors P. Vinchon, X. Glad, G. Robert Bigras, R. Martel, and L. Stafford


Engineering of defects located in grains or at grain boundaries is central to the development of functional materials. Although there is a surge of interest in the formation, migration and annihilation of defects during ion and plasma irradiation of bulk materials, these processes are rarely assessed in low-dimensional materials and remain mostly unexplored spectroscopically at the micrometre scale due to experimental limitations. Here, we use a hyperspectral Raman imaging scheme providing high selectivity and diffraction-limited spatial resolution to examine plasma-induced damage in a polycrystalline graphene film. Measurements conducted before and after very low-energy (11–13 eV) ion bombardment show defect generation in graphene grains following a zero-dimensional defect curve, whereas domain boundaries tend to develop as one-dimensional defects. Damage generation is slower at grain boundaries than within the grains, a behaviour ascribed to preferential self-healing. This evidence of local defect migration and structural recovery in graphene sheds light on the complexity of chemical and physical processes at the grain boundaries of two-dimensional materials.

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