Mechanical Properties of Atomically Thin Tungsten Dichalcogenides: WS2, WSe2, and WTe2

Alexey Falin, Matthew Holwill, Haifeng Lv, Wei Gan, Jun Cheng, Rui Zhang, Dong Qian, Matthew R. Barnett, Elton J. G. Santos, Konstantin S. Novoselov, Tao Tao, Xiaojun Wu, Lu Hua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two-dimensional (2D) tungsten disulfide (WS2), tungsten diselenide (WSe2), and tungsten ditelluride (WTe2) draw increasing attention due to their attractive properties deriving from the heavy tungsten and chalcogenide atoms, but their mechanical properties are still mostly unknown. Here, we determine the intrinsic and air-aged mechanical properties of mono-, bi-, and trilayer (1–3L) WS2, WSe2, and WTe2 using a complementary suite of experiments and theoretical calculations. High-quality 1L WS2 has the highest Young’s modulus (302.4 ± 24.1 GPa) and strength (47.0 ± 8.6 GPa) of the entire family, overpassing those of 1L WSe2 (258.6 ± 38.3 and 38.0 ± 6.0 GPa, respectively) and WTe2 (149.1 ± 9.4 and 6.4 ± 3.3 GPa, respectively). However, the elasticity and strength of WS2 decrease most dramatically with increased thickness among the three materials. We interpret the phenomenon by the different tendencies for interlayer sliding in an equilibrium state and under in-plane strain and out-of-plane compression conditions in the indentation process, revealed by the finite element method and density functional theory calculations including van der Waals interactions. We also demonstrate that the mechanical properties of the high-quality 1–3L WS2 and WSe2 are largely stable in air for up to 20 weeks. Intriguingly, the 1–3L WSe2 shows increased modulus and strength values with aging in the air. This is ascribed to oxygen doping, which reinforces the structure. The present study will facilitate the design and use of 2D tungsten dichalcogenides in applications such as strain engineering and flexible field-effect transistors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2600-2610
Number of pages10
JournalACS Nano
Issue number2
Early online date27 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 23 Feb 2021


  • cond-mat.mtrl-sci


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