Strain relaxation via formation of cracks in compositionally modulated two-dimensional semiconductor alloys


Composition modulation of two-dimensional transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) has introduced an enticing prospect for the synthesis of Van der Waals alloys and lateral heterostructures with tunable optoelectronic properties. Phenomenologically, the optoelectronic properties of alloys are entangled to a strain that is intrinsic to synthesis processes. Here, we report an unprecedented biaxial strain that stems from the composition modulation of monolayer TMD alloys (e.g., MoS2xSe2(1 - x)) and inflicts fracture on the crystals. We find that the starting crystal (MoSe2) fails to adjust its lattice constant as the atoms of the host crystal (selenium) are replaced by foreign atoms (sulfur) during the alloying process. Thus, the resulting alloy forms a stretched lattice and experiences a large biaxial tensile strain. Our experiments show that the biaxial strain relaxes via formation of cracks in interior crystal domains or through less constraint bounds at the edge of the monolayer alloys. Griffith’s criterion suggests that defects combined with a sulfur-rich environment have the potential to significantly reduce the critical strain at which cracking occurs. Our calculations demonstrate a substantial reduction in fracture-inducing critical strain from 11% (in standard TMD crystals) to a range below 4% in as-synthesized alloys.

Journal article

Taghinejad, Hossein, Eftekhar, Ali A., Campbell, Philip M., et al.. "Strain relaxation via formation of cracks in compositionally modulated two-dimensional semiconductor alloys." npj 2D Materials and Applications, 2, (2018) Springer Nature:

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