Aging of Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Monolayers

Two-dimensional sheets of transition metal dichalcogenides are an emerging class of atomically thin semiconductors that are considered to be “air-stable”, similar to graphene. Here we report that, contrary to current understanding, chemical vapor deposited transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers exhibit poor long-term stability in air. After room-temperature exposure to the environment for several months, monolayers of molybdenum disulfide and tungsten disulfide undergo dramatic aging effects including extensive cracking, changes in morphology, and severe quenching of the direct gap photoluminescence. X-ray photoelectron and Auger electron spectroscopy reveal that this effect is related to gradual oxidation along the grain boundaries and the adsorption of organic contaminants. These results highlight important challenges associated with the utilization of transition metal dichalcogenide monolayers in electronic and optoelectronic devices. We also demonstrate a potential solution to this problem, featuring encapsulation of the monolayer sheet by a 10–20 nm thick optically transparent polymer (parylene C). This strategy is shown to successfully prevent the degradation of the monolayer material under accelerated aging (<i>i</i>.<i>e</i>., high-temperature, oxygen-rich) conditions.