Project: All optical, high resolution, non-invasive, quality control of crystalline GRMs via imaging of their non-linear optical properties

Acronym GRAPH-EYE (Reference Number: JTC-2017_004)
Duration 01/03/2018 - 28/02/2020
Project Topic The emerging family of Graphene and related materials (GRMs), have provided researchers a fertile ground for exploring fundamental phenomena and developing innovative technology. However, as-grown GRMs can contain numerous structural defects, which significantly alter their physico-chemical properties.1,2 This is certainly an undesirable characteristic towards emerging applications, for which large-scale production of high purity materials is essential. Therefore, it is timely to develop techniques to quickly monitor the quality of GRM materials and provide direct feedback for process control during material growth. In this project, we propose a fast, high-resolution non-linear optical method for the ex-situ and potentially upgradable to in-situ quality control of as-grown GRMs and their heterostructures. Polarization resolved Second Harmonic Generation (PSHG) imaging microscopy will reveal detailed information of the crystal orientation, thickness inhomogeneities and nanoscale defects. Pixel-by-pixel information of the atomic structure of 2D nanosheets will be extracted from PSHG data with a spatial resolution of ~50 nm in two measuring modes: First, the number of atomic layers for each pixel will be precisely estimated by imaging the SHG intensity. Secondly, the polarization of the pixel-by-pixel SHG signal will reveal high-resolution details of the crystallographic axis orientation. Preliminary results show that defects of the crystal structure create a sharp contrast in the PSHG image. To further analyze the experimental findings, a theoretical model will be developed to accurately predict and explain the PSHG data. The interpretation of the PSHG signal by the theoretical predictions will be utilized as a “second order filter” which will further enhance the optical contrast attained. Due to the small dimensions of the pixel (~50nm) compared to the diameter of the excited volume (~500nm), the extracted optical information goes beyond the diffraction limit. This technique is being developed at the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH). Towards the accurate validation and quantitative evaluation of the PSHG observations, the crystallographic orientation, specimen thickness, strain and doping/impurity levels, stacking sequence and twist, chemical composition, electric fields and charge densities will be probed on the same samples, via atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) imaging at the Electron Microscopy for Materials Science group of the University of Antwerp (UA) and via high resolution Raman spectroscopy at the Graphene Centre (CGC) of UCAM. The CVD test-case samples will be provided by the CGC and the AIXTRON company. This project introduces for the first time an all-optical, fast and high-throughput, high-resolution, non-invasive, non-linear optical technique for the evaluation of the crystal quality of as-grown GRMs and their heterostructures. This technique can be readily upgradable for the in-situ monitoring of the 2D crystals’ quality during growth. We envizage that the results obtained will have significant impact in the field of GRMs’ and will be proved useful towards the development of defect-free GRMs with excellent optoelectronic properties.
Call FLAG-ERA Joint Transnational Call (JTC) 2017

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas Coordinator Greece
2 Universiteit Antwerpen Partner Belgium
3 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge Observer United Kingdom