Stable aqueous dispersions of optically and electronically active phosphorene

Joohoon Kang, Spencer A. Wells, Joshua D. Wood, Jae Hyeok Lee, Xiaolong Liu, Christopher R. Ryder, Jian Zhu, Jeffrey R. Guest, Chad A. Husko, Mark C. Hersam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

187 Scopus citations


Understanding and exploiting the remarkable optical and electronic properties of phosphorene require mass production methods that avoid chemical degradation. Although solution-based strategies have been developed for scalable exfoliation of black phosphorus, these techniques have thus far used anhydrous organic solvents in an effort to minimize exposure to known oxidants, but at the cost of limited exfoliation yield and flake size distribution. Here, we present an alternative phosphorene production method based on surfactant-assisted exfoliation and postprocessing of black phosphorus in deoxygenated water. From comprehensive microscopic and spectroscopic analysis, this approach is shown to yield phosphorene dispersions that are stable, highly concentrated, and comparable to micromechanically exfoliated phosphorene in structure and chemistry. Due to the high exfoliation efficiency of this process, the resulting phosphorene flakes are thinner than anhydrous organic solvent dispersions, thus allowing the observation of layer-dependent photoluminescence down to the monolayer limit. Furthermore, to demonstrate preservation of electronic properties following solution processing, the aqueous-exfoliated phosphorene flakes are used in field-effect transistors with high drive currents and current modulation ratios. Overall, this method enables the isolation and mass production of few-layer phosphorene, which will accelerate ongoing efforts to realize a diverse range of phosphorene-based applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11688-11693
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number42
StatePublished - Oct 18 2016


  • Black phosphorus
  • Deoxygenated water
  • Field-effect transistor
  • Liquid phase exfoliation
  • Photoluminescence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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