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Enabling Materials

Synthesis and production of perfect layered materials

The isolation of graphene triggered the interest in many other layered materials. The Enabling Materials Work Package studies them and investigates new optimised manufacturing methods. The solutions developed within the Graphene Flagship enable a variety of applications, such as sensors, batteries, and (opto)electronics.

This year’s progress

One promising layered material is molybdenum disulfide, which has extraordinary electronic properties. Our work package has developed new production methods to grow high-quality molybdenum disulfide directly onto sapphire wafers – later used to create reprogrammable logic circuits and other electronic devices. We also designed efficient methods to manufacture layers of tin phosphide (SnP3), ideal for boosting the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to liquid-exfoliated tin phosphide sheets, the Graphene Flagship created batteries with record-breaking energy densities.

The Enabling Materials Work Package also combines different layered compounds, like ingredients in a sandwich, to yield unprecedented properties and applications. For example, encapsulating graphene into slices of hexagonal boron nitride creates samples with excellent electronic properties, easily manufactured in large scales using methods like chemical vapour deposition.

Our fundamental approach allows us to push the boundaries of layered materials and yield ground-breaking discoveries. In 2021, we pioneered the synthesis of nanographene spin chains – mono-dimensional materials that use hydrocarbon triangulene as building blocks. We also functionalised graphene with small peptides that specifically recognise HCV – the virus behind hepatitis C. The materials developed by the Graphene Flagship feature high tuneability beyond this type of sensors – other applications include the detection of different biomarkers and antiviral coatings, key in the fight against pathogens like SARS-CoV-2.

Now, the biggest challenge ahead is the large-scale synthesis of new layered materials, ideally without any defects. Our goal is perfection – however this is a major task that will still require years of research and innovation. Beyond this, the Enabling Materials Work Package will keep exploring the fundamental properties of novel layered materials, as well as designing new characterisation methodologies.

We want to keep enlarging the catalogue of layered materials, fully understand their properties and develop more innovative applications.

Upcoming Challenges

We want to expand the catalogue of layered materials. Our Work Package will keep focusing on the characterisation and functionalisation of graphene and related materials, to better understand their properties and develop innovative applications. One of our major challenges is the large-scale synthesis of materials without defects, which will require huge efforts over the next few years. Additionally, the exploration of new physics – such as topologically protected states – are sure to lead to fascinating effects and outcomes.

Work Package Leadership

Leader: Mar García-Hernández, CSIC, Spain
Deputy: Jonathan Coleman, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Division Leadership

Leader: Stephan Roche, ICN2, Spain
Deputy: Alberto Morpurgo, Université de Geneve, Switzerland

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