Research by Professor Ric Kaner and collaborators published in Science

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Kaner Richard

Professor Ric Kaner and his research collaborators in Australia have recently published a paper in the journal Science on the synthesis of 2D materials.

A liquid metal reaction environment for the room-temperature synthesis of atomically thin metal oxides” appeared in the 20 October 2017 issue of Science.

Professor Kaner’s collaborators were Ali Zavabeti, Jian Zhen Ou, Benjamin J. Carey, Nitu Syed, Rebecca Orrell-Trigg, Chenglong Xu, Omid Kavahei, Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh, and Torben Daeneke from the School of Engineering and Edwin L. H. Mayes from the School of Applied Sciences, both departments at RMIT University in Melbourne; and Anthony P. O’Mullane from the School of Chemistry, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering at Queensland University of Technology.

Two-dimensional materials have a wide range of applications in electronics and other technologies, but synthesizing them has been difficult until now.  Kaner and his colleagues used liquid metal at room temperature, specifically, nontoxic eutectic gallium-based alloys, as a reaction environment.  When oxides with high melting points, HfO2, Al2O3, and Gd2O3, were added to this environment, the researchers were able to isolate the 2D sheets that formed as a surface layer after the Hf, Gd, or Al had dissolved into the bulk alloy.  The resulting 2D sheets are the oxides with the lowest energy, and the process is very scalable; it should be possible to make other 2D oxides with this method.

According to the paper, “The 2D materials we synthesized hold promise for application in energy storage, such as supercapacitors and batteries that require large quantities of materials with high ratios of surface area to volume.”

Professor Kaner added, “Many metal oxides could prove to be useful in micro-electronic devices if high quality ultra-thin films could be synthesized.  This is now possible by using liquid gallium as a reaction medium.”

More information about Professor Kaner’s research can be found at his website.

Written by Laura Strom, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry.