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Laser shock nanostraining of 2D materials and van der Waals heterostructures

posted on 27.04.2021, 03:02 by Maithilee Motlag

Since the successful exfoliation of graphene, two-dimensional (2D) materials have attracted a lot of scientific interest due to their electronic, chemical, and mechanical properties. Due their reduced dimensionality, these 2D materials exhibit superior mechanical and optoelectronic properties when compared to their bulk counterparts. Within the family of 2D materials, the ultrathin transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) such as Tungsten diselenide and Molybdenum disulphide have gained significant attention due to their chemical versatility and tunability. Furthermore, it is possible to leverage the distinct characteristic properties of these 2D materials, which are held together by van der Waals forces, by stacking different 2D layers on top of each other resulting in van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures. Due to the absence of feasible methods to effectively deform the crystal structures of these 2D materials and vdW heterostructures, their mechanical properties have not been thoroughly understood. The atomistic simulations can effectively capture the material behavior at the nanoscale level and help us not only not only understand the mechanical properties of these materials but also aid in the development of tailored processes to tune the material properties for the design of novel metamaterials. Using atomistic simulations, we develop the process - property relationships which can guide the direction of experimentation efforts, thereby making the process of discovering and designing new metamaterials efficient.

In this work, we have used laser shock nanostraining technique which is a scalable approach to modulate the optomechanical properties of 2D materials and vdW materials for practical semiconductor industry applications. The deformation mechanisms of 2D materials such as graphene, boron nitride (BN) and TMDs such as WSe2 and MoS2 are examined by employing a laser shocking process. We report studies on crystal structure deformation of multilayered WSe2 and monolayer graphene at ultra-high strain rate using laser shock . The laser shocking process generates high pressure at GPa level, causing asymmetric 3D straining in graphene and a novel kinked-like locking structure in multilayered WSe2. The deformation processes and related mechanical behaviors in laser shocked 2D materials are examined using atomistic simulations. Moiré heterostructures can be obtained by introducing a twist angle between these 2D layers, which can result into vdW materials with different properties, thereby adding an additional degree of freedom in the process-property design approach. We were able to successfully create a tunable stain profile in 2D materials and vdW heterostructures to modulate the local properties such as friction, and bandgap by controlling the level of laser shock, twist angle between the 2D layers and by applying appropriate laser shock pressure . We thus extend this knowledge to further explore the pathways of strain modulation using a combination of laser shocking process, moiré engineering, and strain engineering in 2D materials consisting of graphene, BN, and MoS2 and to develop the process - property relationships in vdW materials.

In summary, this research presents a systematic understanding of the effect of laser shocking process on the van der Waals materials and demonstrates the modulation of mechanical and opto-electronic property using laser nanostraining approach. This understanding provides us with opportunities for deterministic design of 2D materials with controllable properties for semiconductor and nanoelectronics applications.


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial Engineering

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Gary J. Cheng

Additional Committee Member 2

Wenzhuo Wu

Additional Committee Member 3

Kejie Zhao

Additional Committee Member 4

Wenbin Yu