Graphene Strained by Defects

JT Robinson and MK Zalalutdinov and CD Cress and JC Culbertson and AL Friedman and A Merrill and BJ Landi, ACS NANO, 11, 4745-4752 (2017).

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b00923

Using graphene nanomechanical resonators we demonstrate the extent to which the mechanical properties of multilayer graphene films are controllable, in real time, through introduction and rearrangement of defects. We show both static and re-entrant (cyclical) changes in the tensile stress using a combination of ion implantation, chemical functionalization, and thermal treatment. While the dramatic increase in static tensile stress achievable through laser annealing can be of importance for various MEMS applications, we view the direct observation of a time-variable stress as even more significant. We find that defect- rich films exhibit a slow relaxation component of the tensile stress that remains in the resonator long after the laser exposure is finished (t(relax) approximate to 100 s >> t(cooling)), analogous to a wind-up toy. We attribute this persistent component of the time-variable stress to a set of metastable, multivacancy structures formed during the laser anneal. Our results indicate that significant stress fields generated by multivacancies, in combination with their finite lifetime, could make them a powerful and flexible tool in nanomechanics.

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