Graphene, a single- or few-layer sheet of graphitic carbon, has many unique electrical, mechanical, thermal and optical properties, and can be combined with other functional nanostructures to make hybrid materials with a wide range of practical applications. Controlling the size and distribution of nanomaterials on graphene sheets, however, is still a major challenge but researchers at Jiangsu University in China may have come up with a solution to this problem – by using a self-assembly approach to load CeO2 nanoparticles onto reduced graphene oxide (RGO) nanosheets. The technique might be used as a general route to attach other functional nanoparticles onto this carbon material.

As shown in the figure, CeO2 nanoparticles whose size, distribution and loading content can be well controlled are assembled onto RGO sheets to form highly integrated nanocomposites via chemisorption and van der Waals interactions.

In the study, the team showed that the RGO/CeO2 nanocomposites can act as photocatalysts for degrading methylene blue under simulated sunlight irradiation. Incorporating RGO with CeO2 into nanocomposites appears to significantly enhance the photocatalytic activity of CeO2 nanoparticles thanks to the improved separation of electron-hole pairs and enhanced light adsorption.

These hybrid materials could find use in the fields of catalysis, sensing and power.

Full details can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.