Direct Visualization of Electric-Field-Induced Structural Dynamics in Monolayer Transition Metal Dichalcogenides

Akshay A. Murthy, Teodor K. Stanev, Roberto Dos Reis, Shiqiang Hao, Christopher Wolverton, Nathaniel P. Stern, Vinayak P. Dravid*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Layered transition metal dichalcogenides offer many attractive features for next-generation low-dimensional device geometries. Due to the practical and fabrication challenges related to in situ methods, the atomistic dynamics that give rise to realizable macroscopic device properties are often unclear. In this study, in situ transmission electron microscopy techniques are utilized in order to understand the structural dynamics at play, especially at interfaces and defects, in the prototypical film of monolayer MoS2 under electrical bias. Through our sample fabrication process, we clearly identify the presence of mass transport in the presence of a lateral electric field. In particular, we observe that the voids present at grain boundaries combine to induce structural deformation. The electric field mediates a net vacancy flux from the grain boundary interior to the exposed surface edge sites that leaves molybdenum clusters in its wake. Following the initial biasing cycles, however, the mass flow is largely diminished and the resultant structure remains stable over repeated biasing. We believe insights from this work can help explain observations of nonuniform heating and preferential oxidation at grain boundary sites in these materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1569-1576
Number of pages8
JournalACS nano
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 25 2020


  • MoS
  • electrical transport
  • grain boundaries
  • in situ electron microscopy
  • transition metal dichalcogenides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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