Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Committee Chair

Charter D Stinespring

Committee Co-Chair

Robin S Hissam

Committee Member

Mark A Jerabek

Committee Member

Edward M Sabolsky

Committee Member

John W Zondlo


The goal of this research was the synthesis of graphene and graphene nanocomposite for use as sensor materials. This dissertation describes the optimization of a novel approach to the synthesis of few layer graphene films on SiC, the modification of the graphene surface by wet chemical methods, the nucleation of nanoparticles to form graphene-nanoparticle composites, the fabrication of chemoresistive sensor structures from these materials, and the characterization of these surfaces and films.;In this work, the basic graphene synthesis method which uses halogen based plasma etching and ultra-high vacuum annealing (UHVA), has been optimized to reliably produce one, two, and three layer graphene on SiC films. The process has also been extended by replacing the UHVA step with rapid thermal annealing (RTA) in atmospheric pressure argon. Graphene films produced by both methods have been characterized using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Raman microscopy, and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The UHVA process produces films with halogen-based and possibly some oxygen-based defects, whereas the RTA processes produces exclusively oxygen-based defects which include epoxide, hydroxyl, and carbonyl groups similar to, but at much lower levels, than that observed for graphene oxide (GO). As in the case for GO, the defect density was further reduced by wet chemical surface modification.;Nanoparticles (Ag, Au, Pt, Ir) were attached to these surfaces using solution based methods. The particle diameter and height distributions along with surface coverage were characterized using AFM methods. Key parameters in these studies included solution composition and incubation time. For electrical characterization and sensor testing, two structures were then fabricated using lithography free methods and electron beam evaporation. The first of these structures, referred to as the transmission line method (TLM) structure, was used in the present work for electrical characterization. Using the TLM structure, the electrical properties were characterized using two and four point probe methods. The films exhibited semiconducting behavior which is believed to be due to the opening of a band gap by the halogen- and oxygen-based defects. Using the two and four pint methods, the Schottky barrier height, the carrier density, electrical resistivity, and the carrier mobility were determined. The electrical resistivity was found to have an inverse relationship with number of graphene layers for one, two, and three layer films. The second device structure was a simple interdigitated sensor structure which was passed on to other researchers for sensor studies. Overall, reliable and reproducible synthesis and fabrication methods for graphene and graphene-nanoparticle composites have been developed for the next stage of testing and sensor development.