Researchers Develop Innovative Technique for Synthesizing MoS2

Oxford Instruments has succeeded in commercializing wafer-scale fabrication technology for 2D material MoS2 by employing the world’s first non-destructive quality control method from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).

Credit: NPL

There has been a consistent increase in the demand for the miniaturization of electronics, such as wearables, smartphones as well as the Internet of Things devices. However, at present, the electronics field is getting closer to the scaling limit for conventional silicon materials. In the past few years, distinctive mechanical and electrical properties, as well as atomically-thin dimensions, of two-dimensional (2D) materials have turned the focus of the Researchers to these materials.

Although graphene was the first 2D material analyzed in-depth, at present there is significant interest on alternative 2D materials that have various characteristics and innovative applications. Of these 2D materials, a semiconducting 2D material called single-layer molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) has gained major attention owing to its technologically exploitable optical and electronic characteristics that can pave the way for a new class of optoelectronic and electronic devices.

In order to commercialize electronic devices made of 2D materials, industry faces a challenge to carry out quality control checks without destroying or damaging the material. As a single-layer of a 2D material is only a single atom or molecule thick, assessing their quality so far has only been possible using destructive techniques. It is anticipated that defects could severely affect the potential of MoS2-based electronic devices.

Therefore, the capability to analyze and quantify the amount of defects without destroying the material is significant for enabling large-scale production of the material, device fabrication and material functionalization.

One of the pioneers in developing high technology systems and tools for research as well as industrial purposes, Oxford Instruments endeavored to create an innovative deposition system and procedure for producing MoS2 in an industrially scalable way to further assist in the commercialization of MoS2. The research team was looking for an apt quality control technique and focused on the study from the National Graphene Metrology Centre (NGMC), a pioneer in characterizing and performing advanced quantification of 2D materials, at NPL.

We were investigating the use of Raman spectroscopy for characterizing MoS2 and found that it is a viable high-throughput and non-destructive technique for quantifying defects in this exciting 2D material. Importantly for this study we could controllably introduce known defects into MoS2 as a first step, using a technique from our previous work in graphene.

Dr Andrew Pollard, Senior Research Scientist, NPL

Dr Ravi Sundaram, Senior Scientist at Oxford Instruments, stated that owing to this, “We were able to use NPL’s industrially-focused research as a framework for developing our own quality control measure that uses Raman spectroscopy to quantify defects in MoS2 produced using chemical vapour deposition. While such techniques are widely used for graphene, there was no established way of checking the quality of MoS2 in a non-destructive manner before NPL’s work was published. Being able to measure the quality of the material enables us to optimise the growth process. This ensures we are able to provide very high quality, low defect density MoS2 films from our tools.”

The research performed on MoS2 by NPL offered Oxford Instruments the requisite methodology to create their own quality control method with the ability to characterize the 2D MoS2 layers without damaging the structure of the material. The method allowed the Researchers to effectively characterize the MoS2 synthesized through an industrially scalable technique, thus accelerating the commercialization of 2D materials.

We have both academic and industry customers, who are looking for efficient production and characterization of these novel materials. MoS2 is a promising material for electronics, and quite a few industries are interested in it. Being able to manufacture it efficiently is vital to making the material commercially viable and attractive, and this technique has helped us offer a high quality and competitive product to our customers.

Dr Ravi Sundaram, Senior Scientist, Oxford Instruments

MoS2 looks to be a propitious material for use not only in electronics but also optoelectronics. Apart from offering various benefits in phasing out conventional electronics, the intrinsically thin atomic structure of MoS2 enables the incorporation of more functional elements on a chip for applications like sensors.

Moreover, the semiconducting electronic structure of MoS2 makes it highly favorable for optical applications, for example, light emission and photovoltaics. Fundamentally, increasing the production of MoS2 and evaluating its quality by means of non-destructive techniques are advantageous to Manufacturers as well as the entire industry.

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