Nanoscale Mapping of Hydrogen Evolution on Metallic and Semiconducting MoS2 Nanosheets

Elisa Link, Hanyu Zhang, Chuanxiao Xiao, Sanjini Nanayakkara, Jeffrey Blackburn, Tong Sun, Xiang Wang, Michael Mirkin, Jun Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus Citations


Hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) on molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanosheets is enhanced for the metallic (1T) phase relative to the thermodynamically stable semiconducting (2H) phase. To measure this difference, we employ scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) for high-resolution mapping (<20 nm spatial resolution) of surface reactivity for mixed-phase and pure 2H-only MoS2 nanosheets. For mixed-phase MoS2 nanosheets, we find major differences in reactivity of the two phases for electron transfer involving ferrocenemethanol, allowing us to locate 1T and 2H regions and directly map the corresponding HER activity. In our measurements, we find that HER is immeasurably slow on the 2H basal plane and much faster on edges, whereas 1T portions are highly reactive across the entire portion. We also use scanning transmission electron microscopy-electron energy loss spectroscopy and scanning Kelvin probe microscopy to corroborate the phase domains and local workfunctions (surface potentials) within the MoS2 nanosheets; the mixed-phase MoS2 has a shallower workfunction compared to 2H MoS2, which could enable a greater driving force for H2 generation. This powerful combination of techniques for spatially mapping surface reactivity and correlated phase domains should be applicable to a broad range of materials for HER and other catalysis reactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)619-624
Number of pages6
JournalNanoscale Horizons
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-71993


  • electron energy levels
  • electron energy loss spectroscopy
  • electron scattering
  • energy dissipation
  • high resolution transmission electron microscopy
  • hydrogen
  • layered semiconductors
  • mapping
  • nanosheets
  • scanning
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • scanning probe microscopy
  • solar-photochemistry
  • sulfur compounds


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