Amidst all the (well-deserved) hype around graphene, it’s important to remember that its properties are not unique to carbon. More atoms can be coaxed into stable 2-dimensional configuration, with molybdenene previously theoretically possible. This is now demonstrated by Tumesh Kumar Sahu and colleagues in a recent Nature Nanotechnology article, through the manufacturing of a 2D molybdenum-based material which they showed to be indeed molybdenene. Essentially, this is a 2D lattice of molybdenum atoms, a configuration in which it qualifies as Dirac matter, just like graphene. For those of us unfamiliar with Dirac materials, this gentle introduction by Jérôme Cayssol in Comptes Rendus Physique might be of use.
In order to create molybdenene, the researchers started with molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), which using a microwave-assisted field underwent electrochemical transformation into whiskers that when examined turned out to consist out of monolayers of Mo. The sulfur atoms were separated using a graphene sheet. As is typical, molybdenene sheets were exfoliated using Scotch tape, in a process reminiscent of the early days of graphene research.
Much like graphene and other Dirac materials, molybdenene has many potential uses as a catalyst, as cantilever in scanning electron microscope (SEM) tips, and more. If the past decades of research into graphene has demonstrated anything, it is that what once seemed more of a novelty, suddenly turned out to have endless potential in fields nobody had considered previously. One of these being as coatings for hard disk platters, for example, which has become feasible due to increasingly more efficient ways to produce graphene in large quantities.