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Rapid and Reliable Thickness Identification of Two-Dimensional Nanosheets Using Optical Microscopy

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School of Materials Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, 50 Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 639798
Division of Physics and Applied Physics, School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 21 Nanyang Link, Singapore 637371
*Address correspondence to [email protected]
Cite this: ACS Nano 2013, 7, 11, 10344–10353
Publication Date (Web):October 16, 2013
Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society

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    The physical and electronic properties of ultrathin two-dimensional (2D) layered nanomaterials are highly related to their thickness. Therefore, the rapid and accurate identification of single- and few- to multilayer nanosheets is essential to their fundamental study and practical applications. Here, a universal optical method has been developed for simple, rapid, and reliable identification of single- to quindecuple-layer (1L–15L) 2D nanosheets, including graphene, MoS2, WSe2, and TaS2, on Si substrates coated with 90 or 300 nm SiO2. The optical contrast differences between the substrates and 2D nanosheets with different layer numbers were collected and tabulated, serving as a standard reference, from which the layer number of a given nanosheet can be readily and reliably determined without using complex calculation or expensive instrument. Our general optical identification method will facilitate the thickness-dependent study of various 2D nanomaterials and expedite their research toward practical applications.

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    AFM measurement of MoS2 flake shown in Figure 1a. Raman spectra of 1L–15L graphene, MoS2, and WSe2 nanosheets. Contrast difference plot of 1L–15L graphene on 90 nm SiO2/Si. Optical images and contrast difference plots of 1L–15L graphene on 300 nm SiO2/Si. The detailed optical contrast difference (CD, CDR, CDG, and CDB) and height values of 2D nanosheets. Optical images and contrast difference plots of 2L–28L and 32L TaS2 nanosheets on 90 nm SiO2/Si. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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