Nanomechanical cleavage of molybdenum disulphide atomic layers

DM Tang and DG Kvashnin and S Najmaei and Y Bando and K Kimoto and P Koskinen and PM Ajayan and BI Yakobson and PB Sorokin and J Lou and D Golberg, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, 5, 3631 (2014).

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4631

The discovery of two-dimensional materials became possible due to the mechanical cleavage technique. Despite its simplicity, the as-cleaved materials demonstrated surprising macro-continuity, high crystalline quality and extraordinary mechanical and electrical properties that triggered global research interest. Here such cleavage processes and associated mechanical behaviours are investigated by a direct in situ transmission electron microscopy probing technique, using atomically thin molybdenum disulphide layers as a model material. Our technique demonstrates layer number selective cleavage, from a monolayer to double layer and up to 23 atomic layers. In situ observations combined with molecular dynamics simulations reveal unique layer-dependent bending behaviours, from spontaneous rippling (<5 atomic layers) to homogeneous curving (similar to 10 layers) and finally to kinking (20 or more layers), depending on the competition of strain energy and interfacial energy.

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