BSA-caged metal clusters to exfoliate MoS2 nanosheets towards their hybridized functionalization†
Herein, we develop a facile exfoliation and in situ functionalization strategy to produce hybridized Au/MoS2 nanostructures comprised of size-controlled gold nanoparticles (Au NPs) and ultrathin MoS2 nanosheets by using bovine serum albumin (BSA)-caged Au25 clusters as both exfoliating and functionalizing agents. As revealed, BSA molecules are strongly adsorbed on MoS2via their hydrophobic interaction, and this drives the expansion of the BSA molecules that initially protect Au25 cores at pH 4, leading to the effective exfoliation of MoS2 nanosheets together with the epitaxial growth of Au25 cores into 5 nm-sized Au NPs on MoS2 nanosheets due to their reduced surface protection. Upon the addition of H2O2, the resulting Au NPs can further grow to achieve a controlled size from 5 to 30 nm with an increase of the reaction time. It is demonstrated that the hybridized Au/MoS2 nanosheets exhibit a better performance in the photocatalytic degradation of substrates compared to the individual components or their mixture. Moreover, the hybridized Ag/MoS2, Au/WO3 and Au/graphene nanosheets are further produced by the usage of BSA-caged Ag and Au clusters, respectively. Overall, this work reports the first utilization of protein-caged metal clusters for the exfoliation and hybridized functionalization of 2D materials, and this brings more opportunities to exploit unusual properties of hybridized 2D materials for novel applications.