A guide to and review of the use of Multiwavelength Raman Spectroscopy for characterizing defective aromatic carbon solids: From graphene to amorphous carbons

A. Merlen, J.G. Buijnsters, C. Pardanaud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

133 Citations (Scopus)
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sp2 hybridized carbons constitute a broad class of solid phases composed primarily of elemental carbon and can be either synthetic or naturally occurring. Some examples are graphite, chars, soot, graphene, carbon nanotubes, pyrolytic carbon, and diamond-like carbon. They vary from highly ordered to completely disordered solids and detailed knowledge of their internal structure and composition is of utmost importance for the scientific and engineering communities working with these materials. Multiwavelength Raman spectroscopy has proven to be a very powerful and non-destructive tool for the characterization of carbons containing both aromatic domains and defects and has been widely used since the 1980s. Depending on the material studied, some specific spectroscopic parameters (e.g., band position, full width at half maximum, relative intensity ratio between two bands) are used to characterize defects. This paper is addressed first to (but not limited to) the newcomer in the field, who needs to be guided due to the vast literature on the subject, in order to understand the physics at play when dealing with Raman spectroscopy of graphene-based solids. We also give historical aspects on the development of the Raman spectroscopy technique and on its application to sp2 hybridized carbons, which are generally not presented in the literature. We review the way Raman spectroscopy is used for sp2 based carbon samples containing defects. As graphene is the building block for all these materials, we try to bridge these two worlds by also reviewing the use of Raman spectroscopy in the characterization of graphene and nanographenes (e.g., nanotubes, nanoribbons, nanocones, bombarded graphene). Counterintuitively, because of the Dirac cones in the electronic structure of graphene, Raman spectra are driven by electronic properties: Phonons and electrons being coupled by the double resonance mechanism. This justifies the use of multiwavelength Raman spectroscopy to better characterize these materials. We conclude with the possible influence of both phonon confinement and curvature of aromatic planes on the shape of Raman spectra, and discuss samples to be studied in the future with some complementary technique (e.g., high resolution transmission electron microscopy) in order to disentangle the influence of structure and defects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number153
Number of pages55
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • multiwavelength Raman spectroscopy
  • carbon solids
  • graphene
  • disordered carbon
  • amorphous carbon
  • nanocarbons


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