Chenyang Xing and his coworkers at Shenzhen University explain what knights being attacked by thunderbolts has to do with phosphorus chemistry.
Black phosphorus is a form of phosphorus in which all the atoms are linked into puckered sheets. It has various applications, including in photothermal therapies for cancer. The only problem is that it is sensitive to oxygen and water, making it unstable and limiting its usefulness.
We have therefore used graphene oxide nanosheets – miniscule sheets of graphene with oxygen atoms attached – to act as shields, insulating the black phosphorus from oxygen and water.
What this means in practice is that we’ve been able to make graphene oxide/black phosphorus aerogels – porous ultralight materials made from the two materials layered together – which are stable even under harsh conditions. Not only is this chemically interesting, but should allow black phosphorus to be used in many more practical ways in future.
Our cover shows two generals resisting attacks with the help of large shields. The generals represent black phosphorus, the shields represent the graphene oxide nanosheets, and they are being attacked by O2 molecules.
We used 3D Studio Max to create the generals and their shields, and Photoshop to create the background.