Chemical vapor growth and delamination of α-RuCl3 nanosheets down to the monolayer limit†
The 2D layered honeycomb magnet α-ruthenium(III) chloride (α-RuCl3) is a promising candidate to realize a Kitaev spin model. As alteration of physical properties on the nanoscale is additionally intended, new synthesis approaches to obtain phase pure α-RuCl3 nanocrystals have been audited. Thermodynamic simulations of occurring gas phase equilibria were performed and optimization of synthesis conditions was achieved based on calculation results. Crystal growth succeeded via chemical vapor transport (CVT) in a temperature gradient of 973 K to 773 K on YSZ substrates. Single crystal sheets of high crystallinity with heights ≤30 nm were obtained via pure CVT. The crystal properties were characterized by means of optical and electron microscopy, AFM, SAED, micro-Raman and XPS proving their composition, morphology, crystallinity and phase-purity. A highlight of our study is the successful individualization of nanocrystals and the delamination of nanosheets on YSZ substrates down to the monolayer limit (≤1 nm) which was realized by means of substrate exfoliation and ultrasonication in a very reproducible way.