Advanced Materials have published our work on graphene-graphene interactions carried out by Robert Sinclair, James Suter and Peter Coveney.

Graphite’s layers are bound together by very weak interactions, intuitively this explains its lubricating properties but does not explain why it is so hard to exfoliate. In this paper a new classical molecular dynamics forcefield called GraFF in introduced which allows us to unravel the remarkable interactions between graphene sheets.

We give a nanoscale insight into the mechanisms of graphene’s superlubric behavior, where individual flakes slide large distances with almost no friction. Our simulations use large ensembles to verify and quantify the results which are backed up by experimental findings. We predict that a peeling mechanism of exfoliation, rather than shearing, is an easier route to graphene by 40%. This could have wide reaching impact in scientist’s approach to graphene exfoliation.

These results give us confidence in our new forcefield which we will use in future to study more graphene systems and unlock its potential.

You can find the article here, and read a Science Museum blog about it here.