Southampton University researchers have discovered how to produce large quantities of molybdenum di-sulphide, a material that could match or even exceed the qualities of graphene.
Offering as extraordinary electronic conduction properties and mechanical strength as graphene, the wonder material consisting of just on layer of carbon atoms, molybdenum di-sulphide (MoS2) has been known to engineers before but no one has so far been able to produce it in reasonable quantities.
The best researchers were able to achieve were tiny microscopic flakes.
"We have been working on the synthesis of chalcogenide materials using a chemical vapour deposition (CVD) process since 2001 and our technology has now achieved the fabrication of large area (>1,000mm2) ultra-thin films only a few atoms thick,” said Kevin Huang, who led the research at the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC)
“Being able to manufacture sheets of MoS2 and related materials, rather than just microscopic flakes, as previously was the case, greatly expands their promise for nanoelectronic and optoelectronic applications."
MoS2 is a metallic sulphide from the class of transition metal di-chalcogenides (TMDCs). In addition to strength, flexibility and conductivity, it can also emit light – something even graphene can’t do. This feature may put MoS2 at the forefront of engineering research as it would enable development of an even wider range of applications including photodetectors and light-emitting devices.
"Our ability to not only synthesise large uniform thin films but also to transfer these films to virtually any substrate has led to increased demand for our materials,” Huang said, adding the group is now looking for partners from industry and academia to help them find applications for the new wonder material.
Results of the research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), were published in the latest issue of the journal Nanoscale.