Because of the atomic thinness of graphene, its integration into a device will always involve its interaction with at least one supporting substrate, making the surface energy of graphene critical to its real-life applications. In the current paper, the contact angle of graphene synthesized by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) was monitored temporally after synthesis using water, diiodomethane, ethylene glycol, and glycerol. The surface energy was then calculated based on the contact angle data by the Fowkes, Owens–Wendt (extended Fowkes), and Neumann models. The surface energy of fresh CVD graphene grown on a copper substrate (G/Cu) immediately after synthesis was determined to be 62.2 ± 3.1 mJ/m2 (Fowkes), 53.0 ± 4.3 mJ/m2 (Owens–Wendt) and 63.8 ± 2.0 mJ/m2 (Neumann), which decreased to 45.6 ± 3.9, 37.5 ± 2.3, and 57.4 ± 2.1 mJ/m2, respectively, after 24 h of air exposure. The ellipsometry characterization indicates that the surface energy of G/Cu is affected by airborne hydrocarbon contamination. G/Cu exhibits the highest surface energy immediately after synthesis, and the surface energy decreases after airborne contamination occurs. The root cause of intrinsically mild polarity of G/Cu surface is discussed.
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/Journal of Wuhan University of Technology (Transportation Science and Engineering)