Xiaoting Jia, Ming Chen, Zheng Liu, Kaiwei Li, Qingsheng Zeng, Juan Xia, Lei Wei, Zhe Wang, Ze Xiang Shen, Kazunori Fujisawa, Jiadong Zhou, Jing Zhang, Ting Zhang, Zhixun Wang, Wei Fu, Mauricio Terrones
Thermoplastic polymers subjected to a continuous tensile stress experience a state of mechanical instabilities, resulting in neck formation and propagation. The necking process with strong localized strain enables the transformation of initially brittle polymeric materials into robust, flexible, and oriented forms. Here we harness the polymer-based mechanical instabilities to control the fragmentation of atomically thin transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). We develop a simple and versatile nanofabrication tool to precisely fragment atom-thin TMDs sandwiched between thermoplastic polymers into ordered and atomically perfect TMD nanoribbons in arbitrary directions regardless of the crystal structures, defect content, and original geometries. This method works for a very broad spectrum of semiconducting TMDs with thicknesses ranging from monolayers to bulk crystals. We also explore the electrical properties of the fabricated monolayer nanoribbon arrays, obtaining an on/off ratio of ∼106 for such MoS2 arrays based field-effect transistors. Furthermore, we demonstrate an improved hydrogen evolution reaction with the resulting monolayer MoS2 nanoribbons, thanks to the largely increased catalytic edge sites formed by this physical fragmentation method. This capability not only enriches the fundamental study of TMD extreme and fragmentation mechanics, but also impacts on future developments of TMD-based devices.