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CCNY leads breakthrough study in 2D materials elasticity

Image shows the concept of measuring the forces between single atomic layers in 2D films only a few-layer-thick.
Scientists working at The City College of New York and the new CUNY Advanced Science Research Center are being hailed for developing measurements in two-dimensional materials that hold great promise for nanotechnology applications. This research is considered “an important technological and scientific advancement,” according to the journal, “Nature Materials.”
“Researchers seek to understand two-dimensional (2D) materials because of their potential applications in photonics, nanoelectronics, nanomechanics, and thermoelectrics” says study leader Dr. Elisa Riedo, professor of physics at the City College-based CUNY Advanced Science Research Center.
These materials, such as epitaxial graphene and MoS2, are films made of a few layers, with each layer only one atom thick. The films are characterized by strong in-plane bonds and weak interactions between the layers. 
Sub-angstrom-resolution indentations were used to measure the forces between the atomic layers. Now while the in-plane elasticity of these materials has been widely studied in the past, little was known about the films’ elastic modulus perpendicular to the planes. That is because these types of measurements require ultra-small indentations.
Riedo and her collaborators, including Dr. Yang Gao of CUNY ASRC, were then able to measure and control indentation depths smaller than the films’ interlayer distance. By combining experiments with the density functional theory calculations of Dr. Angelo Bongiorno, a co-principal investigator, the team was able to tune the interlayer elasticity by water molecule intercalation.
The research team also included members from South Korea, Taiwan, France, Saudi Arabia and Italy. Support for the study, which appears in “Nature Materials,” was provided by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the U.S. Department of Energy.
About The City College of New York
Since 1847, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines. More than 16,000 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture; the School of Education; the Grove School of Engineering; the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, and the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership. U.S. News, Princeton Review and Forbes all rank City College among the best colleges and universities in the United States.


Jay Mwamba
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