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Building two-dimensional materials one row at a time: Avoiding the nucleation barrier

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Science  07 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6419, pp. 1135-1139
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau4146

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No barriers to growing a row

Classical nucleation theory predicts that two-dimensional islands on a surface must reach a critical size before they continue to grow; below that size, they dissolve. Chen et al. used phage display to select for short peptides that would bind to molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) (see the Perspective by Kahr and Ward). Hexagonal arrays of these peptides grew epitaxially as dimers but without a size barrier—the critical nuclei size was zero. Although two-dimensional arrays formed, growth occurred one row at time. Classical nucleation theory indeed predicts the absence of a barrier for such one-dimensional growth.

Science, this issue p. 1135; see also p. 1111