Single Atomic Vacancy Catalysis

Jieun Yang, Yan Wang, Maureen J. Lagos, Viacheslav Manichev, Raymond Fullon, Xiuju Song, Damien Voiry, Sudip Chakraborty, Wenjing Zhang, Philip E. Batson, Leonard Feldman, Torgny Gustafsson, Manish Chhowalla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Single atom catalysts provide exceptional activity. However, measuring the intrinsic catalytic activity of a single atom in real electrochemical environments is challenging. Here, we report the activity of a single vacancy for electrocatalytically evolving hydrogen in two-dimensional (2D) MoS2. Surprisingly, we find that the catalytic activity per vacancy is not constant but increases with its concentration, reaching a sudden peak in activity at 5.7 × 1014 cm-2 where the intrinsic turn over frequency and Tafel slope of a single atomic vacancy was found to be ∼5 s-1 and 44 mV/dec, respectively. At this vacancy concentration, we also find a local strain of ∼3% and a semiconductor to metal transition in 2D MoS2. Our results suggest that, along with increasing the number of active sites, engineering the local strain and electrical conductivity of catalysts is essential in increasing their activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9958-9964
Number of pages7
JournalACS nano
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 24 2019


  • helium ion microscope
  • hydrogen evolution reaction
  • molybdenum disulfide
  • scanning transmission electron microscope
  • single vacancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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