Editorial Feature

2D Materials Beyond Graphene: Properties and Potential

The current era of technological development is possible due to the discovery of novel materials using sustainable and economically viable methods. For the past couple of years, 2D materials have been used for important applications, with graphene serving as the core material. However, in recent years, researchers have focused on the exploration of other 2D materials owing to their remarkable properties.

2D Materials Beyond Graphene

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What Makes Molybdenum Disulfide a Very Important 2D Material for Industrial Applications?

Apart from graphene, another group of 2D materials is used for various industrial applications. These are the transition metal dichalcogenides, which are used extensively for biomedical and optoelectronics applications especially. A particular chemical, molybdenum disulfide with the chemical formula MoS2, has outstanding properties, making it a popular choice.

As per an article published in Nano Materials Science, extensive studies have been conducted to explore the fundamental physical phenomena of MoS2, and its potential applications span various fields, including optoelectronics, nano-photonics, catalysis, energy storage, as well as applications in sensors and actuators at the nanoscale.

Large-area MoS2 has also found application as an active channel material in logic-in-memory devices. A popular use of the compound is for the fabrication of logic devices. The electric properties of MoS2 can be altered as per the application, making it a viable choice for floating-gate field-effect transistors (FGFETs).

The exceptional mechanical and tensile strength attributes have made MoS2 a popular choice for applications involving high amounts of stress and pressure. Another essential attribute of MoS2 is piezoelectricity. MoS2 generates electricity when mechanical force is applied on its surface. For this purpose, it is used in stairs that generate power when stepped on and, in turn, generate electricity.

Hexagonal Boron Nitride: A Thin Film Material with Significant Industrial Applications

Another 2D material is Hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), which has gained significant attention apart from graphene. Often considered a potential alternative to graphene, hBN has been explored in various applications, such as electrocatalysts, hydrogen storage, field emitters, and polymer matrix composites.

Researchers have successfully fabricated amorphous boron nitride films with a thickness of 3 nm that demonstrate both mechanical and electrical robustness. These films exhibit an ultralow dielectric constant, measuring less than 2, nearly equivalent to that of air (which is 1).

This makes them highly promising as interconnect isolation materials for high-performance electronics. Notably, these films can withstand temperatures up to 700°C before oxidation in air. Furthermore, boron nitride ranks among the strongest electrically insulating materials, boasting a Young's modulus comparable to that of graphene and a high breaking strength.

An article published in RCS Advances states that its appeal lies in exceptional adsorption performance, high thermal conductivity, and favorable mechanical strength. Compared to hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), boron nitride nanosheets (BNNSs) frequently exhibit enhanced performance and find more versatile applications. When used as nanofillers to reinforce polymer structures, h-BN has shown improved performance in nanocomposites due to its superior mechanical properties and highly anisotropic heat conductivity.

Mxenes and Xenes: A Promising 2D Material Type

MXenes belong to a broad category of two-dimensional (2D) materials that include metal carbides and nitrides. In the MXene formula, M represents early transition metals, X can be carbon or nitrogen, and Tx denotes the surface termination. The sub-nanometer interlayer gaps between 2D sheets in MXenes facilitate rapid ion intercalation and transport, which is achieved through a process of selective etching. These interlayer gaps can be extended by combining MXenes with heterostructures and suitable 2D materials to create hybrid structures.

MXenes, owing to their nanoscale particle size range, display diverse interactions with light, rendering them appealing for applications in optoelectronic devices. These materials excel at shielding against electromagnetic interference (EMI) due to their high metallic conductivity and radiation effectiveness. Various MXenes have been employed for effective EMI shielding. The combination of solution processing's flexibility, scalability, and simplicity, along with MXene's adaptability in antenna applications, positions MXenes as excellent materials for radiofrequency (RF) components.

A recent article in Nanophotonics reveals that various lasers have been developed using 2D Xenes materials. In recent years, 2D Xenes nanomaterials, extending beyond graphene, have found widespread use in passively Q-switched lasers. These lasers operate at wavelengths covering the spectrum from visible to mid-infrared.

In contrast to Q-switched lasers, mode-locked lasers achieve pulse durations in the sub-picosecond range. Recently, passively mode-locked lasers based on 2D Xenes have gained increasing attention for applications in advanced materials processing, medical diagnosis and treatment, military systems, and optical communication. Their notable advantages stem from higher peak power and shorter pulse duration.

2D Transition Metal Oxides (TMO) for Biomedical Applications

2D transition metal oxides (TMOs) have attracted significant interest in the past decade due to their unique optical, magnetic, and electronic features, coupled with generative functionalities. Unlike conventional bulk oxides, the ultra-thin structure of 2D metal oxides enables most atoms to be exposed on the surfaces, giving rise to their distinctive characteristics and applications in various fields.

A recent article in Applied Surface Science Advances has highlighted the biomedical applications of various 2D TMOs. The biomedical applications of ZnO, TiO2, FeOx, MnO2, MoO3, and WO3 involve drug administration, biosensors, bio-imaging, and cancer therapy.

2D ultrathin manganese oxide nano-plates exhibit a lamellar structure. The nano-plates are used in Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Not only this, MnO2 has been treated with folic acid in recent years to create a drug delivery system, especially for targeting tumors.

Fluorescent biosensors are used for detecting the presence of biomolecules. 2D metal oxides are becoming a popular choice for manufacturing these biosensors. 2D material-based fluorescent biosensors have increased sensitivity and a much higher accuracy than conventional biosensors. Furthermore, they are much cheaper and easy to use.

In short, 2D materials are being used in almost all industries to improve performance and ensure seamless efficiency. However, much research is still needed for the discovery of new fabrication techniques intended for 2D materials. The latest innovations in nanotechnology are enabling scientists all over the world to develop novel 2D materials for aerospace, electronics, and thermoelectric systems. The incorporation of Artificial Intelligence will lead to a significant development of 2D materials and ensure their prominent use in future industrial applications.

More from AZoM: Adsorption of Contaminants onto Novel Materials for Water Purification

References and Further Reading

Ares, P. et. al. (2022). Recent advances in graphene and other 2D materials. Nano Materials Science4(1), 3-9. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nanoms.2021.05.002

Uddin, M. et. al. (2023). Graphene-like emerging 2D materials: recent progress, challenges and future outlook. RSC advances13(47), 33336-33375. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1039/D3RA04456D

Zhang, H. et. al. (2022). Ultrafast photonics applications of emerging 2D-Xenes beyond graphene. Nanophotonics11(7), 1261-1284. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1515/nanoph-2022-0045

Yadav, S. et. al. (2023). Emergent 2D materials beyond graphene: Plausible role in biomedical applications. Applied Surface Science Advances18, 100512. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apsadv.2023.100512

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Ibtisam Abbasi

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Ibtisam Abbasi

Ibtisam graduated from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his academic career, he has worked on several research projects and has successfully managed several co-curricular events such as the International World Space Week and the International Conference on Aerospace Engineering. Having won an English prose competition during his undergraduate degree, Ibtisam has always been keenly interested in research, writing, and editing. Soon after his graduation, he joined AzoNetwork as a freelancer to sharpen his skills. Ibtisam loves to travel, especially visiting the countryside. He has always been a sports fan and loves to watch tennis, soccer, and cricket. Born in Pakistan, Ibtisam one day hopes to travel all over the world.

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