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Top–down fabrication of sub-nanometre semiconducting nanoribbons

04/30/2014 - 11:44


Developments in semiconductor technology are propelling the dimensions of devices down to 10 nm, but facing great challenges in manufacture at the sub-10 nm scale. Nanotechnology can fabricate nanoribbons from two-dimensional atomic crystals, such as graphene, with widths below the 10 nm threshold, but their geometries and properties have been hard to control at this scale. Here we find that robust ultrafine molybdenum-sulfide ribbons with a uniform width of 0.35 nm can be widely formed between holes created in a MoS2 sheet under electron irradiation. In situ high-resolution transmission electron microscope characterization, combined with first-principles calculations, identifies the sub-1 nm ribbon as a Mo5S4 crystal derived from MoS2, through a spontaneous phase transition. Further first-principles investigations show that the Mo5S4 ribbon has a band gap of 0.77 eV, a Young’s modulus of 300GPa and can demonstrate 9% tensile strain before fracture. The results show a novel top–down route for controllable fabrication of functional building blocks for sub-nanometre electronics.

Generating electricity by moving a droplet of ionic liquid along graphene

04/06/2014 - 13:58


Since the early nineteenth century, it has been known that an electric potential can be generated by driving an ionic liquid through fine channels or holes under a pressure gradient. More recently, it has been reported that carbon nanotubes can generate a voltage when immersed in flowing liquids, but the exact origin of these observations is unclear, and generating electricity without a pressure gradient remains a challenge. Here, we show that a voltage of a few millivolts can be produced by moving a droplet of sea water or ionic solution over a strip of monolayer graphene under ambient conditions. Through experiments and density functional theory calculations, we find that a pseudocapacitor is formed at the droplet/graphene interface, which is driven forward by the moving droplet, charging and discharging at the front and rear of the droplet. This gives rise to an electric potential that is proportional to the velocity and number of droplets. The potential is also found to be dependent on the concentration and ionic species of the droplet, and decreases sharply with an increasing number of graphene layers. We illustrate the potential of this electrokinetic phenomenon by using it to create a handwriting sensor and an energy-harvesting device.

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Electromelting of Confined Monolayer Ice

05/06/2013 - 11:05


In sharp contrast to the prevailing view that electric fields promote water freezing, here we show by molecular dynamics simulations that monolayer ice confined between two parallel plates can melt into liquid water under a perpendicularly applied electric field. The melting temperature of the monolayer ice decreases with the increasing strength of the external field due to the field-induced disruption of the water-wall interaction induced well-ordered network of the hydrogen bond. This electromelting process should add an important new ingredient to the physics of water.

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