This summer I had the opportunity to work at the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter with Professor Ritesh Agarwal and Dr. Youngchul Leem. My main task was helping Dr. Leem grow and document a group of 2D materials known as transition metal dichalcogenides. During the project, we focused mainly on tungsten disulfide (WS2).
Two-dimensional materials, especially WS2, have generated excitement due to their optical and electronic properties as well as their direct bandgap. Atomically thin transistors as well as other photoelectronic devices are some of the possible applications for these 2D materials. To grow this material, we used a process called Chemical Vapor Deposition. This process uses an extremely hot environment and an influx of gas to react the precursors of the material, which in this case were tungsten trioxide (WO3) and sulfur (S). The material was grown on 1 x 2 cm pieces of sulfur wafer.
After growing the monolayers, we placed them under an optical microscope, shot a blue laser through the microscope and onto the monolayers. When these monolayers were hit with the light from the laser, they emitted a bright red light. Furthermore, the light emitted was in specific patterns. In addition to helping grow these monolayers, I was able to use the imaging machine attached to the microscope to take pictures of the light patterns from the monolayers. Over the course of my project I took over 300 photos of different patterns emitted from the monolayers.
Outside of the many laboratory skills I gained during this experience, I learned a tremendous amount about the fascinating field of 2D materials, as well as research in general. From performing experiments to combing through various research papers, I learned what the daily life of a researcher entails. I also was able to explore a field in my major that I would have never known about without this amazing experience.
I am extremely grateful to PURM, Professor Agarwal and Dr. Leem, as well LRSM and the entire Materials Science Department, for a wonderful experience. I will be forever thankful for this tremendous opportunity!