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Large-Area Quality Control of Atomically-Thin Layered Materials


Fast progress in chemical vapor deposition of graphene and other quasi-two-dimensional layered materials such as topological insulators call for development of a reliable high-throughput method of layered materials identification and quality control. The number of atomic planes in graphene or other ultra-thin films has to be determined very fast and over large wafer-scale areas. The previously existed methods of accurate counting of the number of atomic planes in few-layer graphene were primarily based on micro-Raman spectroscopy. These methods were local, slow, and could not be scaled up to characterize the whole wafers. In this dissertation research I proposed and developed an automatic approach for graphene inspection over the wafer-size areas. The proposed method can be scaled up for industrial use. It is based on the image processing analysis of the pseudo-color contrasts uniquely assigned to each few-layer graphene region characterized by a specific number of atomic planes. The initial calibration of the technique is performed with the help of micro-Raman spectroscopy. The image processing is also used to account for the lighting non-uniformity of the samples. Implementation of the technique developed in this dissertation research reduces the cost and time required for graphene identification and quality assessment, and can become the next major impetus for practical applications of graphene, few-layer graphene and other atomically-thin films. The technique was tested on mechanically exfoliated graphene and then extended to the chemical-vapor-deposited graphene, and to bismuth telluride topological insulator thin films. The second part of the dissertation research deals with development of the electrostatic transfer process. The investigated approach allows one to transfer the patterned few-layer graphene films controllably to Si3N4 substrates compatible with other materials. The large-area quality control and graphene transfer techniques developed in this dissertation research are important for the proposed practical applications of graphene in electronics and optoelectronics.

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