Women in Nanoscience


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Olga Kazakova (NPL, U.K.) shows us how to control the fondness of graphene for water

Posted on August 19, 2015 at 9:00 PM

Like other carbon-based materials, we would expect graphene to be hydrophobic. However, what happens to its hydrophobicity when graphene's thickness is just one molecule thin? Would graphene's affinity to water stay the same or change?


In a recent article published in ACS Nano, Dr. Olga Kazakova, a principal research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK, and her research team demonstrated that graphene's affinity for water is more complicated than we might expect - in line with many of its other extraordinary properties. Using chemical force microscopy equipped with a hydrophobic probe, the researchers measured the force between the probe and graphene surface with its thickness varying from a single layer to a double or triple layer. They found that single-layer graphene is more hydrophilic than either double- or triple-layer graphene. This provides fascinating insight that may affect the development of graphene-based applications, especially since many such applications need to operate at ambient conditions with varying humidity levels. This result suggests that controlling the thickness of graphene gives us a new way to dial-in the hydrophobicity of graphene according to the needs of the application.


At NPL, Dr. Kazakova leads a number of research projects, including the development of single magnetic particle detectors called nano-SQUID and nano-Hall sensors for biological and metrological applications, studying effects of dimensionality in dilute magnetic semiconductors and oxides, and conducting electric scanning microscopy experiments in graphene. She currently serves as an associate chair for the IEEE conference executive committee and as a program co-chair for INTERMAG 2015.

- Written by Eugene Choi, Edited by Paulette Clancy


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