Embedding 2D layered materials into polymers and other materials as composites has resulted in the development of ultrasensitive pressure sensors, tunable conductive stretchable
polymers, and thermoelectric coatings. As a wettable paint or ink, many 2D materials may be penciled, printed, or coated onto a range of surfaces for a variety of applications. However, the intrinsic conductive properties of painted coatings using 2D and layered
materials are not completely understood, and conductive polymer
additives may mask underlying properties such as directional conductivity. We report a process for making a paint from solvent-exfoliated Bi2Te3 into solution-dispersible 2D and few layer (multiple quintuple) nanosheet inks, that form smooth, uniform paint blends at several concentrations of Bi2Te3. The individual solvent-exfoliated nanosheets are edge-coated by (poly)-ethylene glycol to produce a paint, stable over extended period in solution. Electrical transport is found to be sensitive to aspect ratio, and conduction along the painting direction is suppressed for longer strips so long as the aspect ratio is high (4−10× or
more), but for short and wide paint strips (aspect ratio ≤1), conductance is improved by a factor of 3×. Square 2D paint regions show no clear directional preference for conductance at room temperature but are markedly affected by higher temperatures.
Conductivity along a preferential conduction pathway through the nanosheet ensemble is modulated by 2D nanosheet stacking along the direction of paint application for a given aspect ratio. This paint and insights into geometrical 2D composite conduction may have implications for conductive composites, thermoelectrics, and writable circuits using 2D material paints or inks.