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Nat Commun. 2018 Dec 11;9(1):5289. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07710-z.

Reversible and selective ion intercalation through the top surface of few-layer MoS2.

Author information

1
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305, USA.
2
State Key Laboratory of Low Dimensional Quantum Physics, Department of Physics, Tsinghua University, Beijing, 100084, P.R. China.
3
Laboratory for Computational Materials Engineering, Division of Energy and Environment, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen, 518055, P.R. China.
4
Department of Physics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305, USA.
5
Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, California, 94025, USA.
6
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, 94305, USA. yicui@stanford.edu.
7
Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, 2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, California, 94025, USA. yicui@stanford.edu.

Abstract

Electrochemical intercalation of ions into the van der Waals gap of two-dimensional (2D) layered materials is a promising low-temperature synthesis strategy to tune their physical and chemical properties. It is widely believed that ions prefer intercalation into the van der Waals gap through the edges of the 2D flake, which generally causes wrinkling and distortion. Here we demonstrate that the ions can also intercalate through the top surface of few-layer MoS2 and this type of intercalation is more reversible and stable compared to the intercalation through the edges. Density functional theory calculations show that this intercalation is enabled by the existence of natural defects in exfoliated MoS2 flakes. Furthermore, we reveal that sealed-edge MoS2 allows intercalation of small alkali metal ions (e.g., Li+ and Na+) and rejects large ions (e.g., K+). These findings imply potential applications in developing functional 2D-material-based devices with high tunability and ion selectivity.

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