Nature2014-12-11 3:01 PM

Proton transport through one-atom-thick crystals


Abstract

Graphene is increasingly explored as a possible platform for developing novel separation technologies1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. This interest has arisen because it is a maximally thin membrane that, once perforated with atomic accuracy, may allow ultrafast and highly selective sieving of gases, liquids, dissolved ions and other species of interest2, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. However, a perfect graphene monolayer is impermeable to all atoms and molecules under ambient conditions1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7: even hydrogen, the smallest of atoms, is expected to take billions of years to penetrate graphene’s dense electronic cloud3, 4, 5, 6. Only accelerated atoms possess the kinetic energy required to do this20, 21. The same behaviour might reasonably be expected in the case of other atomically thin crystals22, 23. Here we report transport and mass spectroscopy measurements which establish that monolayers of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) are highly permeable to thermal protons under ambient conditions, whereas no proton transport is detected for thicker crystals such as monolayer molybdenum disulphide, bilayer graphene or multilayer hBN. Protons present an intermediate case between electrons (which can tunnel easily through atomically thin barriers24) and atoms, yet our measured transport rates are unexpectedly high4, 5 and raise fundamental questions about the details of the transport process. We see the highest room-temperature proton conductivity with monolayer hBN, for which we measure a resistivity to proton flow of about 10 Ω cm2 and a low activation energy of about 0.3 electronvolts. At higher temperatures, hBN is outperformed by graphene, the resistivity of which is estimated to fall below 10−3 Ω cm2 above 250 degrees Celsius. Proton transport can be further enhanced by decorating the graphene and hBN membranes with catalytic metal nanoparticles. The high, selective proton conductivity and stability make one-atom-thick crystals promising candidates for use in many hydrogen-based technologies.


Full Article

KEYWORDS

SHARE & LIKE

COMMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nature

Nature Magazine

0 Following 27 Fans 0 Projects 626 Articles

SIMILAR ARTICLES

Meristems encompass stem/progenitor cells that sustain postembryonic growth of all plant organs. How meristems are activated and sustained by nutrient

Read More

Transcription of ribosomal RNA by RNA polymerase (Pol) I initiates ribosome biogenesis and regulates eukaryotic cell growth. The crystal structure of P

Read More

Abstract The effect of anthropogenic aerosols on cloud droplet concentrations and radiative properties is the source of one of the largest uncertainti

Read More

Abstract Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift beyond his

Read More

Abstract Evidence from Greenland ice cores shows that year-to-year temperature variability was probably higher in some past cold periods, but there is

Read More

Abstract The land and ocean act as a sink for fossil-fuel emissions, thereby slowing the rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations1. Although t

Read More

论文摘要 人们已经非常清楚生物多样性对初级生产力等生态系统功能有一个积极影响,但它对植物凋落物的多样性和分解植物凋落物的生物的多样性的影响却不是很清楚。Stephan H?ttenschwiler及同事对从亚北极到热带、包括水生生态系统和陆地生态系统在内的五个地点所进行的并行操纵实验中的凋落物多样性进

Read More

论文摘要 FANTOM5 (即“哺乳动物基因组-5的功能注解”) 是一个大型国际合作项目的第5大阶段,其目标是分析定义每个人类细胞类型的转录调控网络。本期Nature上的两篇Articles论文发表了该项目的一些最新结果。第一篇论文利用FANTOM5项目组的组织和原代细胞样本来定义整个人体中活性的、在

Read More

论文摘要 有证据表明,血管 (尤其是它们的内皮细胞) 控制器官的生长、平衡和再生。在本期Nature上发表的两篇论文中,Ralf Adams及同事证明,骨头血管含有专门支持骨成熟和再生的内皮细胞。Anjali Kusumbe等人在小鼠骨骼系统内识别出一个在介导骨生长中起关键作用的毛细血管亚型。这些血管

Read More

论文摘要 CD4 T细胞(携带能够识别被病毒感染的细胞表面上的CD4抗原的受体的辅助T细胞)的丧失是艾滋病发病的根源。在这项研究中,Warner Greene等人识别出静止的淋巴CD4 T细胞在HIV感染过程中被耗尽的机制。利用保持了天然淋巴环境的人淋巴组织的体外培养,本文作者发现,失败的病毒复制触发

Read More