Layer Control of WSe2 via Selective Surface Layer Oxidation

Zhen Li, Sisi Yang, Rohan Dhall, Ewa Kosmowska, Haotian Shi, Ioannis Chatzakis, Stephen B. Cronin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


We report Raman and photoluminescence spectra of mono- and few-layer WSe2 and MoSe2 taken before and after exposure to a remote oxygen plasma. For bilayer and trilayer WSe2, we observe an increase in the photoluminescence intensity and a blue shift of the photoluminescence peak positions after oxygen plasma treatment. The photoluminescence spectra of trilayer WSe2 exhibit features of a bilayer after oxygen plasma treatment. Bilayer WSe2 exhibits features of a monolayer, and the photoluminescence of monolayer WSe2 is completely absent after the oxygen plasma treatment. These changes are observed consistently in more than 20 flakes. The mechanism of the changes observed in the photoluminescence spectra of WSe2 is due to the selective oxidation of the topmost layer. As a result, N-layer WSe2 is reduced to N-1 layers. Raman spectra and AFM images taken from the WSe2 flakes before and after the oxygen treatment corroborate these findings. Because of the low kinetic energy of the oxygen radicals in the remote oxygen plasma, the oxidation is self-limiting. By varying the process duration from 1 to 10 min, we confirmed that the oxidation will only affect the topmost layer of the WSe2 flakes. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy shows that the surface layer WOx of the sample can be removed by a quick dip in KOH solution. Therefore, this technique provides a promising way of controlling the thickness of WSe2 layer by layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6836-6842
Number of pages7
JournalACS Nano
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 26 2016


  • MoSe
  • WSe
  • dichalcogenide
  • oxidation
  • oxygen plasma
  • photoluminescence


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