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Nat Commun ; 12(1): 854, 2021 Feb 08.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33558559


Large optical anisotropy observed in a broad spectral range is of paramount importance for efficient light manipulation in countless devices. Although a giant anisotropy has been recently observed in the mid-infrared wavelength range, for visible and near-infrared spectral intervals, the problem remains acute with the highest reported birefringence values of 0.8 in BaTiS3 and h-BN crystals. This issue inspired an intensive search for giant optical anisotropy among natural and artificial materials. Here, we demonstrate that layered transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) provide an answer to this quest owing to their fundamental differences between intralayer strong covalent bonding and weak interlayer van der Waals interaction. To do this, we made correlative far- and near-field characterizations validated by first-principle calculations that reveal a huge birefringence of 1.5 in the infrared and 3 in the visible light for MoS2. Our findings demonstrate that this remarkable anisotropy allows for tackling the diffraction limit enabling an avenue for on-chip next-generation photonics.

Nature ; 588(7837): 250-253, 2020 12.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33299189


Capillary condensation of water is ubiquitous in nature and technology. It routinely occurs in granular and porous media, can strongly alter such properties as adhesion, lubrication, friction and corrosion, and is important in many processes used by microelectronics, pharmaceutical, food and other industries1-4. The century-old Kelvin equation5 is frequently used to describe condensation phenomena and has been shown to hold well for liquid menisci with diameters as small as several nanometres1-4,6-14. For even smaller capillaries that are involved in condensation under ambient humidity and so of particular practical interest, the Kelvin equation is expected to break down because the required confinement becomes comparable to the size of water molecules1-22. Here we use van der Waals assembly of two-dimensional crystals to create atomic-scale capillaries and study condensation within them. Our smallest capillaries are less than four ångströms in height and can accommodate just a monolayer of water. Surprisingly, even at this scale, we find that the macroscopic Kelvin equation using the characteristics of bulk water describes the condensation transition accurately in strongly hydrophilic (mica) capillaries and remains qualitatively valid for weakly hydrophilic (graphite) ones. We show that this agreement is fortuitous and can be attributed to elastic deformation of capillary walls23-25, which suppresses the giant oscillatory behaviour expected from the commensurability between the atomic-scale capillaries and water molecules20,21. Our work provides a basis for an improved understanding of capillary effects at the smallest scale possible, which is important in many realistic situations.

Nature ; 579(7798): 229-232, 2020 03.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32161387


Despite being only one-atom thick, defect-free graphene is considered to be completely impermeable to all gases and liquids1-10. This conclusion is based on theory3-8 and supported by experiments1,9,10 that could not detect gas permeation through micrometre-size membranes within a detection limit of 105 to 106 atoms per second. Here, using small monocrystalline containers tightly sealed with graphene, we show that defect-free graphene is impermeable with an accuracy of eight to nine orders of magnitude higher than in the previous experiments. We are capable of discerning (but did not observe) permeation of just a few helium atoms per hour, and this detection limit is also valid for all other gases tested (neon, nitrogen, oxygen, argon, krypton and xenon), except for hydrogen. Hydrogen shows noticeable permeation, even though its molecule is larger than helium and should experience a higher energy barrier. This puzzling observation is attributed to a two-stage process that involves dissociation of molecular hydrogen at catalytically active graphene ripples, followed by adsorbed atoms flipping to the other side of the graphene sheet with a relatively low activation energy of about 1.0 electronvolt, a value close to that previously reported for proton transport11,12. Our work provides a key reference for the impermeability of two-dimensional materials and is important from a fundamental perspective and for their potential applications.