Theses Doctoral

Achieving Ohmic Contact for High-quality MoS2 Devices on Hexagonal Boron Nitride

Cui, Xu

MoS2, among many other transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs), holds great promise for future applications in nano-electronics, opto-electronics and mechanical devices due to its ultra-thin nature, flexibility, sizable band-gap, and unique spin-valley coupled physics. However, there are two main challenges that hinder careful study of this material. Firstly, it is hard to achieve Ohmic contacts to mono-layer MoS2, particularly at low temperatures (T) and low carrier densities. Secondly, materials' low quality and impurities introduced during the fabrication significantly limit the electron mobility of mono- and few-layer MoS2 to be substantially below theoretically predicted limits, which has hampered efforts to observe its novel quantum transport behaviours.
Traditional low work function metals doesn't necessary provide good electron injection to thin MoS2 due to metal oxidation, Fermi level pinning, etc. To address the first challenge, we tried multiple contact schemes and found that mono-layer hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) and cobalt (Co) provide robust Ohmic contact. The mono-layer spacer serves two advantageous purposes: it strongly interacts with the transition metal, reducing its work function by over 1 eV; and breaks the metal-TMDCs interaction to eliminate the interfacial states that cause Fermi level pinning. We measure a flat-band Schottky barrier of 16 meV, which makes thin tunnel barriers upon doping the channels, and thus achieve low-T contact resistance of 3 at a carrier density of 5.3x10^12/cm^2.
Similar to graphene, eliminating all potential sources of disorder and scattering is the key to achieving high performance in MoS2 devices. We developed a van der Waals heterostructure device platform where MoS2 layers are fully encapsulated within h-BN and electrically contacted in a multi-terminal geometry using gate-tunable graphene electrodes. The h-BN-encapsulation provides excellent protection from environmental factors, resulting in highly stable device performance, even at elevated temperatures. Both optical and electrical characterization confirms our high quality devices, including an ultra-clean interface, a record-high Hall mobility reaching 34,000 cm^2/Vs, and first observation of Shubnikov–de Haas oscillations.
The development of Ohmic contact and fabrication of high quality devices are critical to MoS2 application and studying its intrinsic properties. Therefore, the progress made in this work will facilitate efforts to study novel physical phenomena of MoS2 that were not accessible before.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Hone, James
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 10, 2017