Electrical & Computer Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



NATURE COMMUNICATIONS | 6:7993 | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8993 | www.nature.com/naturecommunications


2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.


Two-dimensional monolayer transition metal dichalcogenide semiconductors are ideal building blocks for atomically thin, flexible optoelectronic and catalytic devices. Although challenging for two-dimensional systems, sub-diffraction optical microscopy provides a nanoscale material understanding that is vital for optimizing their optoelectronic properties. Here we use the ‘Campanile’ nano-optical probe to spectroscopically image exciton recombination within monolayer MoS2 with sub-wavelength resolution (60 nm), at the length scale relevant to many critical optoelectronic processes. Synthetic monolayer MoS2 is found to be composed of two distinct optoelectronic regions: an interior, locally ordered but mesoscopically heterogeneous two-dimensional quantum well and an unexpected B300-nm wide, energetically disordered edge region. Further, grain boundaries are imaged with sufficient resolution to quantify local exciton-quenching phenomena, and complimentary nano-Auger microscopy reveals that the optically defective grain boundary and edge regions are sulfur deficient. The nanoscale structure–property relationships established here are critical for the interpretation of edge- and boundary-related phenomena and the development of next-generation two-dimensional optoelectronic devices.