Nano-level lubricant tuning improves surface coatings

A scanning electron microscope image of atomically-thin MoS2 with hierarchical, dual-scale structures
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed an approach to dynamically tune the micro- and nano-scale roughness of atomically thin molybdenum disulphide (MoS2), and consequently the appropriate degree of hydrophobicity for various potential MoS2-based applications.

MoS2, which is used as a solid lubricant, has recently been shown to have a two-dimensional form similar to that of graphene. But, when thinned down to less than a nanometer thick, MoS2 demonstrates properties with great promise as a functional material for electronic devices and surface coatings.

“The knowledge of how new materials interact with water is a fundamental,” explained SungWoo Nam, assistant professor of mechanical science and engineering at Illinois. “Whereas the wettability of graphene has been substantially investigated, that of atomically thin MoS2 - in particular atomically thin MoS2 with micro- and nano-scale roughness - has remained relatively unexplored despite its strong potential for fundamental research and device applications.”

According to the researchers, this study expands the toolkit to allow tunable wettability of 2D materials, many of which are just beginning to be discovered.

The work will provide a new approach to dynamically tune the micro- and nano-scale roughness of atomically thin MoS2 and consequently the appropriate degree of hydrophobicity for applications including waterproofing for electronic devices. It may also be useful for medical applications with reduced hydrophobicity for effective contact with biological substances.

Author
Tom Austin-Morgan

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