The exfoliation of two naturally occurring van der Waals minerals, graphite and molybdenite, arouse an unprecedented level of interest by the scientific community and shaped a whole new field of research: 2D materials research. Several years later, the family of van der Waals materials that can be exfoliated to isolate 2D materials keeps growing, but most of them are synthetic. Interestingly, in nature, plenty of naturally occurring van der Waals minerals can be found with a wide range of chemical compositions and crystal structures whose properties are mostly unexplored so far. This Perspective aims to provide an overview of different families of van der Waals minerals to stimulate their exploration in the 2D limit.
We thank Nikos Papadopoulos for interesting discussions about minerals and for pointing out the existence of getchellite to us. We also thank the staff of IGE Minerales shop (Madrid, Spain) and Museo Geominero of Madrid (Spain). This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant agreement number 755655, ERC-StG 2017 project 2D-TOPSENSE) and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Graphene Flagship (grant agreement number 785219, GrapheneCore2 project and grant agreement number 881603, GrapheneCore3 project). R.F. acknowledges the support from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness through a Juan de la Cierva-formación fellowship 2017 FJCI-2017-32919 and the grant MAT2017-87072-C4-4-P.