Toward the control of 2D material transfer

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2D materials and their exciting properties will be integrated in innovative electronic devices when their transfer from growth substrate to a target will be fully controlled.

Two-dimensional (2D) materials are promising candidates for integration in future electronic, (bio)sensing, photonic and even energy applications thanks to their numerous exciting physical properties like high thermal conductivity, flexibility, tuneable light absorption, superconductivity, high mobility, etc. Some examples of available 2D materials include transition metal dichalcogenides (e.g. MoS2, MoSe2, WS2...), graphene, phosphorene, and h-BN. The ultimate thickness control that can be reached with these 2D materials is a key parameter to achieve great performance. A low defect density is also required for incorporating them in electronic devices. Currently, the best synthetic 2D material quality is achieved with high temperature growth processes (>>700C). However, this high growth temperature is not compatible with devices, so the 2D layer cannot be directly deposited at the desired location in a device. Hence, the transfer of the 2D material from the growth substrate to the target material where to design the devices seems unavoidable. As these 2D materials are only van der Waals bonded, it is immediately clear that such a pick and place process is already very challenging per se. But it is not the only challenge to overcome: the ultimate thickness scaling of these 2D materials also makes them strongly influenced by their surroundings. Not only they are sensitive to doping induced by surrounding molecules, but they can also be very vulnerable to oxidation. This makes control over both top and bottom interface of the outmost importance. Finally, stress/strain need to be carefully controlled due to the flexible nature of these materials. On the positive side, one could use the sensitivity of these materials to dope them in a controlled way or even to tune their properties by varying the stress over the layer. In order to obtain this level of control, we must gain much more fundamental insights in the behaviour of these 2D materials when handling and laminating them on different materials, and various challenges lie ahead to achieve the perfectly controlled transfer. For example, the adhesion forces that can be optimised to achieve the delamination from the growth substrate, but also the lamination on a target, are under investigation. Since everything in this process occurs at interfaces, experimental research is challenging, and state-of-the-art characterization techniques will have to be used to achieve the necessary level of understanding. For example, one way to control these interfaces could be heterogeneous 2D material stacking. The focus of the thesis will be the growth of the 2D layers and their transfer. Characterization techniques (AFM, SEM, Raman, XRD, XRR...) will be used during the project.​

Type of project: Thesis, Internship

Required degree: Master of Science, Master of Engineering Science

Required background: Physics, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology, Materials Engineering, Chemistry/Chemical Engineering

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Marie-Emmanuelle Boulon ( and Steven Brems (

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