Proton transport through two dimensional materials

  • Sheng Hu

Student thesis: Phd


Two-dimensional (2D) materials, referring to materials being just one atom thick, prove to be attractive not only in fundamental research but also in applications. Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal rings, is just the first among other materials (including hexagonal boron nitride and molybdenum disulfide) that could be isolated into mono-atomic layers. The presented thesis investigates proton transport through atomically thin two-dimensional materials. While the electronic, optical and mechanical properties of graphene and other 2D materials have been intensely researched over the past decade, much less is known on the interaction of these crystals with protons. It has been reported that most of the defect free two dimensional materials are impermeable to nearly all gases, molecules and ions. Whether proton, the smallest positively charged ion, could transport through two dimensional materials at a low energy level remains unknown. This work investigates proton transport through 2D materials, including graphene, hexagonal boron nitride and molybdenum disulfide, in two different systems: Nafion/Pd solid system and liquid/liquid interface system, both of which provided consistent results. Our results suggest that proton can transport through the interatomic spacings in the lattice of single layer BN and graphene, while single layer MoS2 is impermeable to protons. Single layer BN is the most conductive to protons among the 2D materials investigated in this thesis. Lower proton conductance of graphene is due to its delocalized pie electrons while proton impermeability of MoS2 is due to the three atomic layers structure.Moreover, proton transfer is greatly facilitated by the deposition of platinum nanoparticles on the proton conductive 2D membranes to such a degree that platinum decorated BN seems to present negligible resistance to the transfer of protons through its lattice.
Date of Award1 Aug 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester


  • 2D materials
  • proton transport

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