Letter | Published:

Single-layer MoS2 nanopores as nanopower generators

Nature volume 536, pages 197200 (11 August 2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Making use of the osmotic pressure difference between fresh water and seawater is an attractive, renewable and clean way to generate power and is known as ‘blue energy’1,2,3. Another electrokinetic phenomenon, called the streaming potential, occurs when an electrolyte is driven through narrow pores either by a pressure gradient4 or by an osmotic potential resulting from a salt concentration gradient5. For this task, membranes made of two-dimensional materials are expected to be the most efficient, because water transport through a membrane scales inversely with membrane thickness5,6,7. Here we demonstrate the use of single-layer molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanopores as osmotic nanopower generators. We observe a large, osmotically induced current produced from a salt gradient with an estimated power density of up to 106 watts per square metre—a current that can be attributed mainly to the atomically thin membrane of MoS2. Low power requirements for nanoelectronic and optoelectric devices can be provided by a neighbouring nanogenerator that harvests energy from the local environment8,9,10,11—for example, a piezoelectric zinc oxide nanowire array8 or single-layer MoS2 (ref. 12). We use our MoS2 nanopore generator to power a MoS2 transistor, thus demonstrating a self-powered nanosystem.

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Acknowledgements

This work was financially supported by the European Research Council (grant 259398, PorABEL), by a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Consolidator grant (BIONIC BSCGI0_157802), by SNSF Sinergia grant 147607, and by funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007-2013 under Grant Agreement 318804 (for single-nanometre lithography). We thank the Centre Interdisciplinaire de Microscopie Electronique (CIME) at the École Polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) for access to electron microscopes. Device fabrication was partially carried out at the EPFL Center for Micro/Nanotechnology (CMi). N.R.A. is supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research under grant FA9550-12-1-0464, and by the National Science Foundation under grants 1264282, 1420882, 1506619 and1545907. We acknowledge the use of the parallel computing resource Blue Waters, provided by the University of Illinois and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Laboratory of Nanoscale Biology, Institute of Bioengineering, School of Engineering, EPFL, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Jiandong Feng
    • , Michael Graf
    • , Ke Liu
    •  & Aleksandra Radenovic
  2. Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures, Institute of Electrical Engineering and Institute of Materials Science and Engineering, School of Engineering, EPFL, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland

    • Dmitry Ovchinnikov
    • , Dumitru Dumcenco
    •  & Andras Kis
  3. Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Mohammad Heiranian
    • , Vishal Nandigana
    •  & Narayana R. Aluru

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Contributions

J.F. and A.R. conceived the idea, designed all experiments, and wrote the manuscript. J.F. and M.G. performed measurements and data analysis. J.F. and K.L. fabricated the nanopore device. D.O. fabricated the MoS2 transistor and D.D. performed chemical-vapour-deposition MoS2 growth under A.K.’s supervision. J.F. and D.O. demonstrated the self-powering of the nanosystem. M.H., V.N., and N.R.A. built the computational nanofluidics model and interpreted the simulation results. All authors provided constructive comments on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jiandong Feng or Aleksandra Radenovic.

Reviewer Information Nature thanks Z. Siwy and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nature18593

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