Computational Synthesis of MoS2 Layers by Reactive Molecular Dynamics Simulations: Initial Sulfidation of MoO3 Surfaces

Sungwook Hong, Aravind Krishnamoorthy, Pankaj Rajak, Subodh Tiwari, Masaaki Misawa, Fuyuki Shimojo, Rajiv K. Kalia, Aiichiro Nakano, Priya Vashishta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDC) like MoS2 are promising candidates for next-generation electric and optoelectronic devices. These TMDC monolayers are typically synthesized by chemical vapor deposition (CVD). However, despite significant amount of empirical work on this CVD growth of monolayered crystals, neither experiment nor theory has been able to decipher mechanisms of selection rules for different growth scenarios, or make predictions of optimized environmental parameters and growth factors. Here, we present an atomic-scale mechanistic analysis of the initial sulfidation process on MoO3 surfaces using first-principles-informed ReaxFF reactive molecular dynamics (RMD) simulations. We identify a three-step reaction process associated with synthesis of the MoS2 samples from MoO3 and S2 precursors: O2 evolution and self-reduction of the MoO3 surface; SO/SO2 formation and S2-assisted reduction; and sulfidation of the reduced surface and Mo-S bond formation. These atomic processes occurring during early stage MoS2 synthesis, which are consistent with experimental observations and existing theoretical literature, provide valuable input for guided rational synthesis of MoS2 and other TMDC crystals by the CVD process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4866-4872
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 9 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • MoO surface
  • MoS
  • ReaxFF
  • molecular dynamics simulations
  • sulfidation
  • synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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