Large-scale synthesis and functionalization of hexagonal boron nitride nanosheets
A simple and inexpensive method to functionalize hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) was achieved by using an acid mixture of phosphoric and sulphuric acid. This functionalization induced the exfoliation of the layered structure of hBN into monolayer to few-layer sheets where the sizes of the sheets were dependent on the parent hBN powder used. Exfoliated hBN was shown to be stable in solvents such as ethanol, acetone, deionized water and isopropyl alcohol, and this stability was linked to sulfur functionalization that was induced during the exfoliation process. Further evidence of the functionalization was observed using transmission electron spectroscopy (TEM) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). By deconvoluting the high resolution peaks for B 1s, the bonding of boron to oxygen and sulfur was confirmed. The exfoliated hBN nanosheets were crystalline as confirmed from X-ray diffraction and they also exhibited an optically active defect related to sulfur functionalization at 320 nm (3.9 ± 0.1 eV).