Beyond Graphene: A New “Metallic” 2D Material – Molybdenene

Molybdenene Metallic Relative of Graphene

Scientists have introduced “molybdenene,” a unique 2D metallic material. Exhibiting impressive heat resistance and potential in enhancing battery performance, molybdenene also shows promise in atomic microscopy and spectroscopy applications. Credit & Copyright: Sahu, T.K., Kumar, N., Chahal, S. et al., Nat. Nanotechnol. (2023), (CC BY 4.0)

Researchers have developed a new 2D material named “molybdenene.” Composed of a single atomic layer of molybdenum atoms, this material stands out due to its metallic nature.

Comparison With Graphene

The scientists succeeded in producing a thin sheet of the metal molybdenum, which is just one atomic layer thick. The new material is thus similarly thin as graphene, probably the best-known 2D material. The latter consists of carbon and was first isolated in 2004. The discovery aroused great attention because graphene conducts electricity and heat far better than copper and is a hundred times more stable than steel. At the same time, it is exceptionally light and flexible. Due to its special 2D structure, graphene also exhibits some unusual electromagnetic effects that could enable groundbreaking innovations in the field of quantum technology.

Molybdenene Whiskers

Electron microscope images of the hair-shaped structures, also known as “whiskers,” which contain the thin molybdenene layers. Credit & Copyright: Sahu, T.K., Kumar, N., Chahal, S. et al., Nat. Nanotechnol. (2023), (CC BY 4.0)

The Uniqueness of Molybdenene

Molybdenene Surface Microscopic View

High-resolution electron microscope image of the molybdenene surface. Credit & Copyright: Sahu, T.K., Kumar, N., Chahal, S. et al., Nat. Nanotechnol. (2023), (CC BY 4.0)

Creation and Potential Applications

The researchers created the new 2D material using a microwave, in which they heated a mixture of molybdenum sulfide (MoS2) and graphene to incandescence at a temperature of around 3000 degrees Celsius. In a reaction driven by the microwave electric field, finely branched hair structures, also known as “whiskers,” were formed in which the tapered molybdenum layers can be found.

In the first tests, the scientists could already observe a variety of useful properties. “Molybdenene is mechanically extremely stable. It could be used, for example, as a coating for electrodes to make batteries even more powerful and robust,” explains Ilia Valov. The researchers expect that the material has further exotic electronic properties, similar to graphene, because of its special 2D structure. Due to its metallic character, it also has freely moving electrons. These accumulate on the two side sides of the molybdenene, which makes the material an interesting candidate for catalysts to accelerate chemical reactions.

Hair-Shaped Structures of Molybdenene

Hair-shaped structures of molybdenene (right) are formed in the microwave (left). Credit & Copyright: Sahu, T.K., Kumar, N., Chahal, S. et al, Nat. Nanotechnol. (2023), (CC BY 4.0)

Practical Implementations and Collaborations

In collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology in Patna and the Australian University of Newcastle, the researchers have already been able to develop a practical scientific application for molybdenene. Thanks to its stability and excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, it is ideally suited as a measuring tip for atomic force microscopy (AFM) and surface-enhanced RAMAN spectroscopy (SERS). Initial sample recordings show that molybdenene offers various advantages over established tip materials and, because of its thin, flat shape, is capable of providing particularly good protection against unwanted interference signals.

Reference: “Microwave synthesis of molybdenene from MoS2” by Tumesh Kumar Sahu, Nishant Kumar, Sumit Chahal, Rajkumar Jana, Sumana Paul, Moumita Mukherjee, Amir H. Tavabi, Ayan Datta, Rafal E. Dunin-Borkowski, Ilia Valov, Alpana Nayak and Prashant Kumar, 4 September 2023, Nature Nanotechnology.
DOI: 10.1038/s41565-023-01484-2