Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) is an ultra-high vacuum technique in which crystalline thin films are grown one atomic layer at a time. Due to the slow growth rate and ultra-high vacuum conditions, these thin films have very few defects. Because films are grown one atomic layer at a time, different materials can be stacked together with sharp interfaces between to create complex structures. MBE is used in industry to construct a variety of devices including lasers and transistors, while MBE is used in research labs to explore new materials and grow unusual structures. In this talk, I will first give a detailed overview of how MBE works, assuming no prior knowledge. I will then describe how MBE can be applied to the growth of van der Waals materials. van der Waals materials have strong covalent bonds in the plane, but weak van der Waals bonds between the atomic layers. These materials have exploded in popularity in recent years, with potential applications in lightweight, flexible optoelectronic devices, new materials for quantum computing, and as hosts for exotic physics. Although van der Waals materials can be exfoliated from bulk crystals and transferred to carrier substrates as thin sheets for further processing, the size of the exfoliated flakes is limited, making wafer-scale synthesis techniques like MBE important for future device synthesis. However, the weak out-of-plane bonding makes the growth of these materials by MBE unexpectedly complex. I will describe our efforts to understand the growth of van der Waals materials by MBE and show some of the unique synthesis behaviors we can obtain.
Stephanie Law, Associate Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Delaware
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