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Disorder in van der Waals heterostructures of 2D materials


Realizing the full potential of any materials system requires understanding and controlling disorder, which can obscure intrinsic properties and hinder device performance. Here we examine both intrinsic and extrinsic disorder in two-dimensional (2D) materials, in particular graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs). Minimizing disorder is crucial for realizing desired properties in 2D materials and improving device performance and repeatability for practical applications. We discuss the progress in disorder control for graphene and TMDs, as well as in van der Waals heterostructures realized by combining these materials with hexagonal boron nitride. Furthermore, we showcase how atomic defects or disorder can also be harnessed to provide useful electronic, optical, chemical and magnetic functions.

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Fig. 1: Types of disorder in 2D materials.
Fig. 2: Evolution of graphene device design and resulting performance improvements.
Fig. 3: Reducing extrinsic disorder in TMDs through hBN encapsulation.
Fig. 4: Intrinsic disorder in TMDs and defect control through growth.
Fig. 5: Applications of defects and disorder in 2D materials.


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We would like to acknowledge M. Yankowitz and J. I. A. Li for many discussions involving graphene and graphene devices. This work was supported the National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers programme through Columbia in the Center for Precision Assembly of Superstratic and Superatomic Solids (DMR-1420634). S.H.C. was supported by the Postdoctoral Research Program of Sungkyunkwan University (2016).

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Rhodes, D., Chae, S.H., Ribeiro-Palau, R. et al. Disorder in van der Waals heterostructures of 2D materials. Nat. Mater. 18, 541–549 (2019).

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