Prof. Vincenzo Palermo, Functional Organic Materials National Research Council, Rome, Italy
Using 2-dimensional nanosheets in a 3-dimensional world:
At the beginning of its exciting life, graphene was mostly a game for physicists. Then, chemists have learned how to “play” with this unique material by enhancing its processability and versatility. Today it is possible, using covalent or supramolecular chemistry, to tailor graphene into a wide variety of forms ranging from simple, soluble sheets to hierarchical architectures where 2-dimensional (2D) graphene sheets are assembled into three-dimensional (3D) composite materials or foams for applications in electronics, mechanics, energy storage or catalysis.
After graphene, the exfoliation of a wide range of layered materials (BN, MoS2, MoSe2, WS2 etc.) has been demonstrated, featuring complementary conductive, semiconductive and insulating properties, opening the way to produce new composite, 2D meta-materials.
More recently, polymerization of small molecules through directional 2D crystallization or cross-linking of self-assembled monolayers was used to obtain self-standing, robust nanosheets featuring a huge variety of chemical structures.
Using these different approaches there is practically no limit to the number of possible 2D structures inspired to graphene that shall be created.