Disclosed is a method of preparing a support structure suitable for use, e.g., in microscopic studies, comprising a free standing atomically thin film (e.g. graphene) suspended across an opening in the support structure. The method in one aspect comprises the steps of preparing a thin film which is an atomically thin film (e.g., graphene) on a surface of a solid substrate to form a graphene-layered substrate; attaching the graphene layer to a hole-containing support mesh; removing the solid support, thereby transferring the graphene layer from the substrate to the carbonaceous hole-containing layer on the support mesh; and then removing contaminants to obtain said structure. In another aspect, the present method does not involve a transfer, but comprises a lithography and etching process in which the atomically thin layer is applied to a support which is marked with a lithographic pattern and selectively etched, leaving the free standing film.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL SUPPORT
 This invention was made with U.S. Government support under U.S. Department of Energy Contract Number DE-AC02-05CH11231. The Government has certain rights in this invention.