Two-dimensional materials are emerging as the next generation of electronic materials finding applications from digital logic to light harvesting devices. Despite the exotic qualities of these materials quantified under near-perfect experimental conditions, there is very little information available on the ambient compatibility and robustness of these materials under standard laboratory conditions.
To address this issue, researchers at IBM Zurich have developed a new tool operating in liquids to quantify 2D material structure and electronic properties with single-atom level spatial control at room-temperature. To this end, they engineer and operate for the first time a single-molecule terminated scanning tunneling microscopy probe which immensely increases the local chemical contrast on graphene and 2D MoS2, allowing access to quantify bond length fluctuations, atom-scale topological defects and atomic-interfaces.
Previously such molecular probes were operated only under ultra high vacuum often at cryogenic temperatures. This molecular probe engineered by IBM researchers is stabilized using high density liquids, thus providing a new path in atom-scale metrology of a growing body of 2D materials with highest attainable spatial resolution under experimentally less stringent conditions.