Visualization of Grain Structure and Boundaries of Polycrystalline Graphene and Two-Dimensional Materials by Epitaxial Growth of Transition Metal Dichalcogenides

ACS Nano. 2016 Mar 22;10(3):3233-40. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.5b05879. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


The presence of grain boundaries in two-dimensional (2D) materials is known to greatly affect their physical, electrical, and chemical properties. Given the difficulty in growing perfect large single-crystals of 2D materials, revealing the presence and characteristics of grain boundaries becomes an important issue for practical applications. Here, we present a method to visualize the grain structure and boundaries of 2D materials by epitaxially growing transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) over them. Triangular single-crystals of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) epitaxially grown on the surface of graphene allowed us to determine the orientation and size of the graphene grains. Grain boundaries in the polycrystalline graphene were also visualized reflecting their higher chemical reactivity than the basal plane. The method was successfully applied to graphene field-effect transistors, revealing the actual grain structures of the graphene channels. Moreover, we demonstrate that this method can be extended to determine the grain structure of other 2D materials, such as tungsten disulfide (WS2). Our visualization method based on van der Waals epitaxy can offer a facile and large-scale labeling technique to investigate the grain structures of various 2D materials, and it will also contribute to understand the relationship between their grain structure and physical properties.

Keywords: epitaxy; field-effect transistors; grain boundaries; graphene; transition metal dichalcogenide.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't