Whether and how fracture mechanics needs to be modified for small length scales and in systems of reduced dimensionality remains an open debate. Here, employing in situ transmission electron microscopy, atomic structures and dislocation dynamics in the crack tip zone of a propagating crack in two-dimensional (2D) monolayer MoS2 membrane are observed, and atom-to-atom displacement mapping is obtained. The electron beam is used to initiate the crack; during in situ observation of crack propagation the electron beam effect is minimized. The observed high-frequency emission of dislocations is beyond previous understanding of the fracture of brittle MoS2. Strain analysis reveals dislocation emission to be closely associated with the crack propagation path in nanoscale. The critical crack tip plastic zone size of nearly perfect 2D MoS2 is between 2 and 5 nm, although it can grow to 10 nm under corrosive conditions such as ultraviolet light exposure, showing enhanced dislocation activity via defect generation.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Institute for Basic Science (IBS-R011-D1). We also thank Dr Yu Zhiyang for useful discussions.