Electrical Stressing Induced Monolayer Vacancy Island Growth on TiSe2
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To ensure practical applications of atomically thin transition metal dichalcogenides, it is essential to characterize their structural stability under external stimuli such as electric fields and currents. Using vacancy monolayer islands on TiSe2 surfaces as a model system, we have observed nonlinear area evolution and growth from triangular to hexagonal driven by scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) subjected electrical stressing. The observed growth dynamics represent a 2D departure from the linear area growth law expected for bulk vacancy clustering. Our simulations of monolayer island evolution using phase-field modeling and first-principles calculations are in good agreement with our experimental observations, and point toward preferential edge atom dissociation under STM scanning driving the observed nonlinear area growth. We further quantified a parabolic growth rate dependence with respect to the tunneling current magnitude. The results could be potentially important for device reliability in systems containing ultrathin transition metal dichalcogenides and related 2D materials subject to electrical stressing.
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