The controlled exfoliation of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) into pristine single- or few-layer nanosheets remains a significant barrier to fundamental studies and device applications of TMDs. Here we report a novel strategy for exfoliating crystalline MoS2 into suspensions of nanosheets with retention of the semiconducting 2H phase. The controlled reaction of MoS2 with substoichiometric amounts n-butyllithium results in intercalation of the edges of the crystals, which are then readily exfoliated in a 45 vol % ethanol-water solution. Surprisingly, the resulting colloidal suspension of nanosheets was found (by electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy) to consist mostly of trilayers. The efficiency of exfoliation of the pre-intercalated sample is increased by at least 1 order of magnitude relative to the starting MoS2 microcrystals, with a mass yield of the dispersed nanosheets of 11-15%.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry