• Giant magneto-birefringence effect and tuneable colouration of 2D crystal suspensions

      Ding, Baofu; orcid: 0000-0001-6646-7285; Kuang, Wenjun; orcid: 0000-0003-4309-365X; Pan, Yikun; Grigorieva, I. V.; orcid: 0000-0001-5991-7778; Geim, A. K.; orcid: 0000-0003-2861-8331; email: geim@manchester.ac.uk; Liu, Bilu; orcid: 0000-0002-7274-5752; email: bilu.liu@sz.tsinghua.edu.cn; Cheng, Hui-Ming; orcid: 0000-0002-5387-4241; email: hmcheng@sz.tsinghua.edu.cn (Nature Publishing Group UK, 2020-07-24)
      Abstract: One of the long-sought-after goals in light manipulation is tuning of transmitted interference colours. Previous approaches toward this goal include material chirality, strain and electric-field controls. Alternatively, colour control by magnetic field offers contactless, non-invasive and energy-free advantages but has remained elusive due to feeble magneto-birefringence in conventional transparent media. Here we demonstrate an anomalously large magneto-birefringence effect in transparent suspensions of magnetic two-dimensional crystals, which arises from a combination of a large Cotton-Mouton coefficient and relatively high magnetic saturation birefringence. The effect is orders of magnitude stronger than those previously demonstrated for transparent materials. The transmitted colours of the suspension can be continuously tuned over two-wavelength cycles by moderate magnetic fields below 0.8 T. The work opens a new avenue to tune transmitted colours, and can be further extended to other systems with artificially engineered magnetic birefringence.
    • In-situ nanospectroscopic imaging of plasmon-induced two-dimensional [4+4]-cycloaddition polymerization on Au(111)

      Shao, Feng; orcid: 0000-0003-3879-5884; email: feng.shao@manchester.ac.uk; Wang, Wei; Yang, Weimin; Yang, Zhilin; Zhang, Yao; orcid: 0000-0002-6524-0289; Lan, Jinggang; email: jinggang.lan@chem.uzh.ch; Dieter Schlüter, A.; Zenobi, Renato; orcid: 0000-0001-5211-4358; email: zenobi@org.chem.ethz.ch (Nature Publishing Group UK, 2021-07-27)
      Abstract: Plasmon-induced chemical reactions (PICRs) have recently become promising approaches for highly efficient light-chemical energy conversion. However, an in-depth understanding of their mechanisms at the nanoscale still remains challenging. Here, we present an in-situ investigation by tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (TERS) imaging of the plasmon-induced [4+4]-cycloaddition polymerization within anthracene-based monomer monolayers physisorbed on Au(111), and complement the experimental results with density functional theory (DFT) calculations. This two-dimensional (2D) polymerization can be flexibly triggered and manipulated by the hot carriers, and be monitored simultaneously by TERS in real time and space. TERS imaging provides direct evidence for covalent bond formation with ca. 3.7 nm spatial resolution under ambient conditions. Combined with DFT calculations, the TERS results demonstrate that the lateral polymerization on Au(111) occurs by a hot electron tunneling mechanism, and crosslinks form via a self-stimulating growth mechanism. We show that TERS is promising to be plasmon-induced nanolithography for organic 2D materials.
    • Laser solid-phase synthesis of single-atom catalysts

      Peng, Yudong; Cao, Jianyun; Sha, Yang; Yang, Wenji; Li, Lin; Liu, Zhu; email: zhu.liu@manchester.ac.uk (Nature Publishing Group UK, 2021-08-18)
      Abstract: Single-atom catalysts (SACs) with atomically dispersed catalytic sites have shown outstanding catalytic performance in a variety of reactions. However, the development of facile and high-yield techniques for the fabrication of SACs remains challenging. In this paper, we report a laser-induced solid-phase strategy for the synthesis of Pt SACs on graphene support. Simply by rapid laser scanning/irradiation of a freeze-dried electrochemical graphene oxide (EGO) film loaded with chloroplatinic acid (H2PtCl6), we enabled simultaneous pyrolysis of H2PtCl6 into SACs and reduction/graphitization of EGO into graphene. The rapid freezing of EGO hydrogel film infused with H2PtCl6 solution in liquid nitrogen and the subsequent ice sublimation by freeze-drying were essential to achieve the atomically dispersed Pt. Nanosecond pulsed infrared (IR; 1064 nm) and picosecond pulsed ultraviolet (UV; 355 nm) lasers were used to investigate the effects of laser wavelength and pulse duration on the SACs formation mechanism. The atomically dispersed Pt on graphene support exhibited a small overpotential of −42.3 mV at −10 mA cm−2 for hydrogen evolution reaction and a mass activity tenfold higher than that of the commercial Pt/C catalyst. This method is simple, fast and potentially versatile, and scalable for the mass production of SACs.
    • Mineral reaction kinetics constrain the length scale of rock matrix diffusion

      Wogelius, R. A.; orcid: 0000-0002-5781-2152; email: roy.wogelius@manchester.ac.uk; Milodowski, A. E.; Field, L. P.; orcid: 0000-0002-8747-9901; Metcalfe, R.; Lowe, T.; van Veelen, A.; orcid: 0000-0002-8176-3645; Carpenter, G.; Norris, S.; Yardley, B. (Nature Publishing Group UK, 2020-05-18)
      Abstract: Mass transport by aqueous fluids is a dynamic process in shallow crustal systems, redistributing nutrients as well as contaminants. Rock matrix diffusion into fractures (void space) within crystalline rock has been postulated to play an important role in the transient storage of solutes. The reacted volume of host rock involved, however, will be controlled by fluid-rock reactions. Here we present the results of a study which focusses on defining the length scale over which rock matrix diffusion operates within crystalline rock over timescales that are relevant to safety assessment of radioactive and other long-lived wastes. Through detailed chemical and structural analysis of natural specimens sampled at depth from an active system (Toki Granite, Japan), we show that, contrary to commonly proposed models, the length scale of rock matrix diffusion may be extremely small, on the order of centimetres, even over timescales of millions of years. This implies that in many cases the importance of rock matrix diffusion will be minimal. Additional analyses of a contrasting crystalline rock system (Carnmenellis Granite, UK) corroborate these results.