Selective binding of organic compounds is the cornerstone of many important industrial and pharmaceutical applications. Here, we achieved highly selective binding of aromatic compounds in aqueous solution and gas phase by oxygen-enriched graphene oxide (GO) nanosheets via a previously unknown mechanism based on size matching and polarity matching. Oxygen-containing functional groups (predominately epoxies and hydroxyls) on the nongraphitized aliphatic carbons of the basal plane of GO formed highly polar regions that encompass graphitic regions slightly larger than the benzene ring. This facilitated size match–based interactions between small apolar compounds and the isolated aromatic region of GO, resulting in high binding selectivity relative to larger apolar compounds. The interactions between the functional group(s) of polar aromatics and the epoxy/hydroxyl groups around the isolated aromatic region of GO enhanced binding selectivity relative to similar-sized apolar aromatics. These findings provide opportunities for precision separations and molecular recognition enabled by size/polarity match–based selectivity.
Original Publication Citation
Fu, H., Wang, B., Zhu, D., Zhou, Z., Bao, S., Qu, X., Guo, Y., Ling, L., Zheng, S., Duan, P., Mao, J., Schmidt-Rohr, K., Tao, S., & Alvarez, P. J. J. (2022). Mechanism for selective binding of aromatic compounds on oxygen-rich graphene nanosheets based on molecule size/polarity matching. Science Advances, 8(30), 1-8, Article eabn4650. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abn4650
Fu, Heyun; Wang, Bingyu; Zhu, Dongqiang; Zhou, Zhicheng; Bao, Shidong; Qu, Xiaolei; Guo, Yong; Ling, Lan; Zheng, Shourong; Duan, Pu; Mao, Jingdong; Schmidt-Rohr, Klaus; Tao, Shu; and Alvarez, Pedro J.J., "Mechanism for Selective Binding of Aromatic Compounds on Oxygen-Rich Graphene Nanosheets Based on Molecule Size/Polarity Matching" (2022). Chemistry & Biochemistry Faculty Publications. 228.