Trends in carbon, oxygen and nitrogen core in the X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy of carbon nanomaterials – a guide for the perplexed


Successful deployment of carbon nanomaterials in many applications, such as sensing, energy storage, and catalysis, relies on the selection, synthesis, and tailoring of the surface properties. Predictive analysis of the behavior is difficult without detailed knowledge of the differences between various carbon nanomaterials and their surface functionalization, thus leaving the selection process to traditional trial-and-error work. The present characterization fills this knowledge gap for carbon nanomaterial surface properties with respect to chemical states and functionalization. We present an overview of the chemical trends that can be extracted from soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) spectra on an extended set of nonideal carbon nanomaterials as a function of sp2 bonded carbon and bond ordering. In particular, the surface chemical state, the presence of long-range order in the carbon matrix, and a qualitative estimation of the amount of oxygen and nitrogen and their respective functional group formation on the material surface, together with the detailed material fabrication parameters, are reported. The results expand our understanding of carbon nanomaterial functionalization, which can support material selection in practice, provided that the specifications of the application are known.

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