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Ultrathin and Atomically Flat Transition-Metal Oxide: Promising Building Blocks for Metal–Insulator Electronics

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journal contribution
posted on 07.11.2016, 00:00 by Qingsong Cui, Maryam Sakhdari, Bhim Chamlagain, Hsun-Jen Chuang, Yi Liu, Mark Ming-Cheng Cheng, Zhixian Zhou, Pai-Yen Chen
We present a new and viable template-assisted thermal synthesis method for preparing amorphous ultrathin transition-metal oxides (TMOs) such as TiO2 and Ta2O5, which are converted from crystalline two-dimensional (2D) transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) down to a few atomic layers. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) were used to characterize the chemical composition and bonding, surface morphology, and atomic structure of these ultrathin amorphous materials to validate the effectiveness of our synthesis approach. Furthermore, we have fabricated metal–insulator–metal (MIM) diodes using the TiO2 and Ta2O5 as ultrathin insulating layers with low potential barrier heights. Our MIM diodes show a clear transition from direct tunneling to Fowler–Nordheim tunneling, which was not observed in previously reported MIM diodes with TiO2 or Ta2O5 as the insulating layer. We attribute the improved performance of our MIM diodes to the excellent flatness and low pinhole/defect densities in our TMO insulting layers converted from 2D TMDs, which enable the low-threshold and controllable electron tunneling transport. We envision that it is possible to use the ultrathin TMOs converted from 2D TMDs as the insulating layer of a wide variety of metal–insulator and field-effect electronic devices for various applications ranging from microwave mixing, parametric conversion, infrared photodetection, emissive energy harvesting, to ultrafast electronic switching.