American Chemical Society
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Damage-Free Atomic Layer Etch of WSe2: A Platform for Fabricating Clean Two-Dimensional Devices

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-12-22, 20:05 authored by Ankur Nipane, Min Sup Choi, Punnu Jose Sebastian, Kaiyuan Yao, Abhinandan Borah, Prathmesh Deshmukh, Younghun Jung, Bumho Kim, Anjaly Rajendran, Kevin W. C. Kwock, Amirali Zangiabadi, Vinod M. Menon, P. James Schuck, Won Jong Yoo, James Hone, James T. Teherani
The development of a controllable, selective, and repeatable etch process is crucial for controlling the layer thickness and patterning of two-dimensional (2D) materials. However, the atomically thin dimensions and high structural similarity of different 2D materials make it difficult to adapt conventional thin-film etch processes. In this work, we propose a selective, damage-free atomic layer etch (ALE) that enables layer-by-layer removal of monolayer WSe2 without altering the physical, optical, and electronic properties of the underlying layers. The etch uses a top-down approach where the topmost layer is oxidized in a self-limited manner and then removed using a selective etch. Using a comprehensive set of material, optical, and electrical characterization, we show that the quality of our ALE processed layers is comparable to that of pristine layers of similar thickness. The ALE processed WSe2 layers preserve their bright photoluminescence characteristics and possess high room-temperature hole mobilities of 515 cm2/V·s, essential for fabricating high-performance 2D devices. Further, using graphene as a testbed, we demonstrate the fabrication of ultra-clean 2D devices using a sacrificial monolayer WSe2 layer to protect the channel during processing, which is etched in the final process step in a technique we call sacrificial WSe2 with ALE processing (SWAP). The graphene transistors made using the SWAP technique demonstrate high room-temperature field-effect mobilities, up to 200,000 cm2/V·s, better than previously reported unencapsulated graphene devices.