Sieving hydrogen isotopes through two-dimensional crystals

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  • External authors:
  • S. Hu
  • O. Marshall
  • I. V. Grigorieva
  • A. K. Geim


One-atom-thick crystals are impermeable to atoms and molecules, but hydrogen ions (thermal protons) penetrate through them.We show that monolayers of graphene and boron nitride can be used to separate hydrogen ion isotopes. Using electrical measurements and mass spectrometry, we found that deuterons permeate through these crystals much slower than protons, resulting in a separation factor of ≈10 at room temperature. The isotope effect is attributed to a difference of ≈60 milli-electron volts between zero-point energies of incident protons and deuterons, which translates into the equivalent difference in the activation barriers posed by two-dimensional crystals. In addition to providing insight into the proton transport mechanism, the demonstrated approach offers a competitive and scalable way for hydrogen isotope enrichment.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-70
Number of pages3
Issue number6268
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016