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Size-dependent structure of MoS2 nanocrystals


Molybdenum disulphide nanostructures are of interest for a wide variety of nanotechnological applications ranging from the potential use of inorganic nanotubes in nanoelectronics to the active use of nanoparticles in heterogeneous catalysis. Here, we use atom-resolved scanning tunnelling microscopy to systematically map and classify the atomic-scale structure of triangular MoS2 nanocrystals as a function of size. Instead of a smooth variation as expected from the bulk structure of MoS2, we observe a very strong size dependence for the cluster morphology and electronic structure driven by the tendency to optimize the sulphur excess present at the cluster edges. By analysing of the atomic-scale structure of clusters, we identify the origin of the structural transitions occurring at unique cluster sizes. The novel findings suggest that good size control during the synthesis of MoS2 nanostructures may be used for the production of chemically or optically active MoS2 nanomaterials with superior performance.

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Figure 1: STM image and cluster size distribution of MoS2 nanoclusters synthesized on Au(111).
Figure 2: Ball model of a bulk-truncated hexagonal MoS2 nanocluster exposing the low-index (101̄0) Mo and (1̄010) S edges (sulphur, yellow; molybdenum, blue) and also the most stable edge structures.
Figure 3: Seven atomically resolved STM images of single-layer MoS2 nanoclusters of different sizes in the range n = 4–12.
Figure 4: Detailed analysis of the edge structure of MoS2 triangles with n = 8, 5 and 4.
Figure 5: The NS/NMo ratio of sulphur atoms to Mo atoms calculated as a function of the triangle side length (n, number of Mo atoms at the edge) for triangular MoxSy nanoclusters, where x = NMo and y = NS.

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We thank P.G. Moses, B. Hinnemann, M. Bollinger, J.K. Nørskov and M. Brorson for stimulating discussions. J.V.L. acknowledges financial support from the Carlsberg Foundation.

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All authors conceived and designed the experiments: J.V.L., J.K. and S.H. performed the experiments. J.V.L. analysed the data, and all authors co-wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Flemming Besenbacher.

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Lauritsen, J., Kibsgaard, J., Helveg, S. et al. Size-dependent structure of MoS2 nanocrystals. Nature Nanotech 2, 53–58 (2007).

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