Two-dimensional van der Waals C-60 molecular crystal

CD Reddy and ZG Yu and YW Zhang, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 5, 12221 (2015).

DOI: 10.1038/srep12221

Two-dimensional (2D) atomic crystals, such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides et al. have drawn extraordinary attention recently. For these 2D materials, atoms within their monolayer are covalently bonded. An interesting question arises: Can molecules form a 2D monolayer crystal via van der Waals interactions? Here, we first study the structural stability of a free-standing infinite C-60 molecular monolayer using molecular dynamic simulations, and find that the monolayer is stable up to 600 K. We further study the mechanical properties of the monolayer, and find that the elastic modulus, ultimate tensile stress and failure strain are 55-100 GPa, 90-155 MPa, and 1.5-2.3%, respectively, depending on the stretching orientation. The monolayer fails due to shearing and cavitation under uniaxial tensile loading. The highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of the monolayer are found to be delocalized and as a result, the band gap is reduced to only 60% of the isolated C-60 molecule. Interestingly, this band gap can be tuned up to +/- 30% using strain engineering. Owing to its thermal stability, low density, strain-tunable semi-conducting characteristics and large bending flexibility, this van der Waals molecular monolayer crystal presents aplenty opportunities for developing novel applications in nanoelectronics.

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