Controlled Exfoliation of MoS2 Crystals into Trilayer Nanosheets

Xiaobin Fan, Pengtao Xu, Yuguang C. Li, Dekai Zhou, Yifan Sun, Minh An T. Nguyen, Mauricio Terrones, Thomas E. Mallouk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


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%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5143-5149
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number15
StatePublished - May 4 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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