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General synthesis of two-dimensional van der Waals heterostructure arrays


Two-dimensional van der Waals heterostructures (vdWHs) have attracted considerable interest1,2,3,4. However, most vdWHs reported so far  are created by an arduous micromechanical exfoliation and manual restacking process5, which—although versatile for proof-of-concept demonstrations6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16 and fundamental studies17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26,27,28,29,30—is clearly not scalable for practical technologies. Here we report a general synthetic strategy for two-dimensional vdWH arrays between metallic transition-metal dichalcogenides (m-TMDs) and semiconducting TMDs (s-TMDs). By selectively patterning nucleation sites on monolayer or bilayer s-TMDs, we precisely control the nucleation and growth of diverse m-TMDs with designable periodic arrangements and tunable lateral dimensions at the predesignated spatial locations, producing a series of vdWH arrays, including VSe2/WSe2, NiTe2/WSe2, CoTe2/WSe2, NbTe2/WSe2, VS2/WSe2, VSe2/MoS2 and VSe2/WS2. Systematic scanning transmission electron microscopy studies reveal nearly ideal vdW interfaces with widely tunable moiré superlattices. With the atomically clean vdW interface, we further show that the m-TMDs function as highly reliable synthetic vdW contacts for the underlying WSe2 with excellent device performance and yield, delivering a high ON-current density of up to 900 microamperes per micrometre in bilayer WSe2 transistors. This general synthesis of diverse two-dimensional vdWH arrays provides a versatile material platform for exploring exotic physics and promises a scalable pathway to high-performance devices.

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Fig. 1: Schematic of the growth process.
Fig. 2: Characterizations of VSe2/WSe2 vdWH arrays.
Fig. 3: Nucleation and growth mechanism of VSe2 on patterned WSe2.
Fig. 4: Electron microscopy characterizations of the VSe2/WSe2 vertical heterostructure.
Fig. 5: Characterizations of the CoTe2/WSe2 and NiTe2/WSe2 vdWHs.
Fig. 6: Electrical characterizations of the VSe2/WSe2 vdWH arrays.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.


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The authors at Hunan University acknowledge the support from National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant numbers 51991340, 51991343 and 51872086), and the Hunan Key Laboratory of Two-Dimensional Materials (grant number 2018TP1010). The planar TEM studies were conducted at the Center for Electron Microscopy at Tianjin University of Technology. The cross-sectional STEM experiments were conducted using the facilities in the Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI) at the University of California, Irvine. The work at University of California, Irvine was supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Sciences and Engineering under grant DE-SC0014430.

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Authors and Affiliations



Xidong Duan conceived and designed the research. J. Li, X. Yang, Yang Liu and B. Huang contributed equally to this work. J. Li developed the defect-induced nucleation and synthesized a series of metal–semiconductor vertical heterostructure arrays. J. Li and X. Yang performed device fabrication and electrical measurements. Yang Liu and Xiangfeng Duan contributed to data analysis. X. Yang and Z.Z. participated in the investigation of growth mechanism and TEM characterizations. B. Huang conducted the theoretical calculations and wrote the related discussions with support from M.Z.S.; B.Z. and H.M. participated in the materials growth. R.W. and W.D. participated in the fabrication of field-effect transistors. Z.W. and G.Z. provided large-area materials on sapphire substrates. K.W. and J. Luo performed planar TEM studies. Z.Y.L., X. Yan and X.P. performed the cross-sectional HAADF-STEM characterizations. B. Li performed the Raman and AFM measurements. Yuan Liu and Y.H. contributed to discussions. J. Li, X. Yang, Yang Liu, Xidong Duan and Xiangfeng Duan co-wrote the manuscript with input from all of the authors. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Xidong Duan or Xiangfeng Duan.

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Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Fig. 1 Laser-patterned nucleation sites.

a, Optical microscopy image of WSe2 with periodically patterned defects. b, AFM image of WSe2 with patterned defects. c, The height profile of the white circle region in b, exhibiting a depth of about 0.3 nm.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Raman and photoluminescence spectra of VSe2 and VSe2/WSe2.

Raman spectra of VSe2 on SiO2/Si (a) and VSe2/WSe2 vertical heterostructure (b). c, Photoluminescence spectra of the bare WSe2 and the overlapping VSe2/WSe2 vertical heterostructure.

Extended Data Fig. 3 HAADF-STEM analysis of VSe2 and WSe2.

Atomic-resolution HAADF-STEM image of VSe2 (a) and the corresponding intensity profile of V (b). c, d, Atomic-resolution HAADF-STEM image of WSe2 (c) and the corresponding intensity profile of W (d).

Extended Data Fig. 4 High-resolution view of simulated moiré structures.

Zoom-in view of four locations of moiré structures marked in Fig. 4c (i, ii, iii, i), showing three distinct atomic arrangements, corresponding to the single V atom arrangement (i), V stacking over Se (ii), and V stacking over W (iii). The two panels labelled ‘i’ are identical. The red, blue and yellow spheres correspond to V, W and Se, respectively.

Extended Data Fig. 5 General synthesis of m-TMD/WSe2 vdWH arrays.

Optical microscopy images of the NbTe2/WSe2 vdWH arrays (a) and the VS2/WSe2 vdWH arrays (b).

Extended Data Fig. 6 Large-scale VSe2/MoS2 vdWH arrays on continuous monolayer MoS2 thin film.

a, Typical photograph of highly oriented monolayer MoS2 continuous films grown on 2-inch sapphire wafer. b, c, Optical microscopy images of large-scale periodic VSe2/MoS2 vdWH arrays grown on continuous MoS2 thin films taken with ×10 magnification objective (b) and ×20 magnification objective (c). d–g, High-magnification optical microscopy images of periodic VSe2/MoS2 vdWH arrays collected in different regions of b, suggesting highly uniform growth of VSe2/MoS2 vdWH arrays.

Extended Data Fig. 7 Characterizations of VSe2/WS2 vdWH arrays.

a, Typical optical microscopy image of a VSe2/WS2 vdWH array. b, Raman spectra of the bare WS2 and the overlapping VSe2/WS2 vertical heterostructure. c, d, Raman intensity mapping image of VSe2/WSe2 vdWH arrays at resonant peaks of 353 cm−1 (WS2; c) and 206 cm−1 (VSe2; d). e, Photoluminescence spectra of the bare WS2 and the overlapping VSe2/WS2 vertical heterostructure. f, Photoluminescence intensity mapping image at 658 nm (WS2 emission).

Extended Data Fig. 8 Electrical characterization of a bilayer WSe2 transistors with synthetic vdW contacts.

a, b, Output (a) and transfer (b) curves of a typical device with synthetic VSe2 vdW contacts on 285-nm SiO2/Si. The channel length is about 2.0 μm.

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Li, J., Yang, X., Liu, Y. et al. General synthesis of two-dimensional van der Waals heterostructure arrays. Nature 579, 368–374 (2020).

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