Conventional epitaxy plays a crucial role in current state-of-the art semiconductor technology, as it provides a path for accurate control at the atomic scale of thin films and nanostructures, to be used as the building blocks in nanoelectronics, optoelectronics, sensors, etc. Four decades ago, the terms "van der Waals" (vdW) and "quasi-vdW (Q-vdW) epitaxy" were coined to explain the oriented growth of vdW layers on 2D and 3D substrates, respectively. The major difference with conventional epitaxy is the weaker interaction between the epi-layer and the epi-substrates. Indeed, research on Q-vdW epitaxial growth of transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) has been intense, with oriented growth of atomically thin semiconductors on sapphire being one of the most studied systems. Nonetheless, there are some striking and not yet understood differences in the literature regarding the orientation registry between the epi-layers and epi-substrate and the interface chemistry. Here we study the growth of WS2via a sequential exposure of the metal and the chalcogen precursors in a metal-organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) system, introducing a metal-seeding step prior to the growth. The ability to control the delivery of the precursor made it possible to study the formation of a continuous and apparently ordered WO3mono- or few-layer at the surface of a c-plane sapphire. Such an interfacial layer is shown to strongly influence the subsequent quasi-vdW epitaxial growth of the atomically thin semiconductor layers on sapphire. Hence, here we elucidate an epitaxial growth mechanism and demonstrate the robustness of the metal-seeding approach for the oriented formation of other TMDC layers. This work may enable the rational design of vdW and quasi-vdW epitaxial growth on different material systems.
- metal organic chemical vapor deposition
- quasi-van der Waals epitaxy
- surface modification
- transition metal dichalcogenides
- tungsten trioxide