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Theses Doctoral

Experimental Study of Nano-materials (Graphene, MoS2, and WSe2)

Zhang, Fan

Since the successful isolation of graphene in 2004, two-dimensional (2D) materials have become one of the hottest research fields in material science. My research is about two kinds of popular 2D materials--graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs).
Making graphene into nanoribbons has been predicted and demonstrated to be an effective way to open a bandgap in this pristinely zero-bandgap 2D material. But the rough edge condition of etched graphene nanoribbons has always been a big issue adversely affecting electron transport performance. The electron mean free path of this kind of devices is usually way below the channel width. By using a dual-gate structure based on bilayer graphene/hexagonal boron nitride heterostructure, we found a way to form 300nm-wide conducting channels with high aspect ratio (>15) that can achieve ballistic transport, indicating perfect edge conditions.
As the first star member of TMDCs family, monolayer MoS2 is predicted to be strongly piezoelectric, an effect that disappears in the bulk owing to the opposite orientations of adjacent atomic layers. We conduct the first experimental study of the piezoelectric properties of two-dimensional MoS2 and show that cyclic stretching and releasing of thin MoS2 flakes with an odd number of atomic layers produces oscillating piezoelectric voltage and current outputs, whereas no output is observed for flakes with an even number of layers. In agreement with theoretical predictions, the output increases with decreasing thickness and reverses sign when the strain direction is rotated by 90 degrees. Transport measurements show a strong piezotronic effect in single-layer MoS2, but not in bilayer and bulk MoS2.
Monolayer WSe2, another popular TMDC, has also attracted much recent attention. In contrast to the initial understanding, the minima of the conduction band are predicted to be spin split. Because of this splitting and the spin-polarized character of the valence bands, the lowest-lying excitonic states in WSe2 are expected to be spin-forbidden and optically dark. We show how an in-plane magnetic field can brighten the dark excitonic states and allow their properties to be revealed experimentally in monolayer WSe2. In particular, precise energy levels for both the neutral and charged dark excitons were obtained. Greatly increased emission and valley lifetimes were observed for the brightened dark states as a result of their spin configuration.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Hone, James C.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
November 6, 2017