The intercalation-based exfoliation of layered materials is a broadly applicable strategy for the scalable production of atomically thin (from mono- to few-layer) sheets, including graphene, black phosphorus, hexagonal boron nitride and transition metal dichalcogenides. This strategy typically involves the intercalation of foreign species (ions or small molecules) into the interlayer spaces of layered materials, followed by a mild exfoliation process (spontaneously or via bath sonication, stirring or manual shaking). In this Review we introduce several intercalation-based exfoliation methods and highlight the factors that influence the quality of exfoliated nanosheets. In addition, we introduce the phase-transition phenomena involved in intercalation-based exfoliation, which may induce the resultant nanosheets to differ electronically and structurally from their bulk counterparts. Finally, we discuss potential commercial applications, focusing on devices (such as various electronic, photonic, photoelectric and energy devices) and catalysis (including photocatalysis and electrocatalysis).
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Z.Z. thanks the ECS scheme (CityU9048163) from RGC in Hong Kong and the Basic Research Project from the Shenzhen Science and Technology Innovation Committee in Shenzhen, China (No. JCYJ20210324134012034). Q.L. thanks the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant and the Alberta Innovates Advance Program-NSERC Alliance Grant.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Yang, R., Fan, Y., Mei, L. et al. Synthesis of atomically thin sheets by the intercalation-based exfoliation of layered materials. Nat. Synth 2, 101–118 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s44160-022-00232-z