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      Rapid and reliable thickness identification of two-dimensional nanosheets using optical microscopy


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          The physical and electronic properties of ultrathin two-dimensional (2D) layered nanomaterials are highly related to their thickness. Therefore, the rapid and accurate identification of single- and few- to multi-layer nanosheets is essential to their fundamental study and practical applications. Here, a universal optical method has been developed for simple, rapid and reliable identification of single- to quindecuple-layer (1L-15L) 2D nanosheets, including graphene, MoS2, WSe2 and TaS2, on Si substrates coated with 90 nm or 300 nm SiO2. The optical contrast differences between the substrates and 2D nanosheets with different layer numbers were collected and tabulated, serving as a standard reference, from which the layer number of a given nanosheet can be readily and reliably determined without using complex calculation nor expensive instrument. Our general optical identification method will facilitate the thickness-dependent study of various 2D nanomaterials, and expedite their research toward practical applications.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Electronics and optoelectronics of two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides.

          The remarkable properties of graphene have renewed interest in inorganic, two-dimensional materials with unique electronic and optical attributes. Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) are layered materials with strong in-plane bonding and weak out-of-plane interactions enabling exfoliation into two-dimensional layers of single unit cell thickness. Although TMDCs have been studied for decades, recent advances in nanoscale materials characterization and device fabrication have opened up new opportunities for two-dimensional layers of thin TMDCs in nanoelectronics and optoelectronics. TMDCs such as MoS(2), MoSe(2), WS(2) and WSe(2) have sizable bandgaps that change from indirect to direct in single layers, allowing applications such as transistors, photodetectors and electroluminescent devices. We review the historical development of TMDCs, methods for preparing atomically thin layers, their electronic and optical properties, and prospects for future advances in electronics and optoelectronics.
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            The chemistry of two-dimensional layered transition metal dichalcogenide nanosheets.

            Ultrathin two-dimensional nanosheets of layered transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are fundamentally and technologically intriguing. In contrast to the graphene sheet, they are chemically versatile. Mono- or few-layered TMDs - obtained either through exfoliation of bulk materials or bottom-up syntheses - are direct-gap semiconductors whose bandgap energy, as well as carrier type (n- or p-type), varies between compounds depending on their composition, structure and dimensionality. In this Review, we describe how the tunable electronic structure of TMDs makes them attractive for a variety of applications. They have been investigated as chemically active electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution and hydrosulfurization, as well as electrically active materials in opto-electronics. Their morphologies and properties are also useful for energy storage applications such as electrodes for Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors.
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              Two-dimensional nanosheets produced by liquid exfoliation of layered materials.

              If they could be easily exfoliated, layered materials would become a diverse source of two-dimensional crystals whose properties would be useful in applications ranging from electronics to energy storage. We show that layered compounds such as MoS(2), WS(2), MoSe(2), MoTe(2), TaSe(2), NbSe(2), NiTe(2), BN, and Bi(2)Te(3) can be efficiently dispersed in common solvents and can be deposited as individual flakes or formed into films. Electron microscopy strongly suggests that the material is exfoliated into individual layers. By blending this material with suspensions of other nanomaterials or polymer solutions, we can prepare hybrid dispersions or composites, which can be cast into films. We show that WS(2) and MoS(2) effectively reinforce polymers, whereas WS(2)/carbon nanotube hybrid films have high conductivity, leading to promising thermoelectric properties.

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                25 October 2013


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                ACS Nano, 2013
                49 pages, 20 figures ACS Nano, 2013

                Condensed matter


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