We study the wetting of graphene nanopowders by measuring the water adsorption in nanopowder flakes of different flake thicknesses. Chemical analysis shows that the graphene flakes, especially the thin ones, might exist in the partially oxidized state. We observe that the thinnest graphene nanopowder flakes do not adsorb water at all, independent of the relative humidity. Thicker flakes, on the other hand, do adsorb an increasing amount of water with increasing humidity. This allows us to assess their wetting behavior which is actually the result of the competition between the adhesive interactions of water and graphene and the cohesive interactions of water. Explicit calculation of these contributions from the van der Waals interactions confirms that the adhesive interactions between very thin flakes of graphene oxide and water are extremely weak, which makes the flakes superhydrophobic. "Liquid marble" tests with graphene nanopowder flakes confirm the superhydrophobicity. This shows that the origin of the much debated "wetting transparency" of graphene is due to the fact that a single graphene or graphene oxide layer does not contribute significantly to the adhesion between a wetting phase and the substrate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)