The down-scaling of electrical components requires a proper understanding of the physical mechanisms governing charge transport. Here, we have investigated atomic-scale contacts and their transport characteristics on WS2 using conductive atomic force microscopy (c-AFM). We demonstrate that c-AFM can provide true atomic resolution, revealing atom vacancies, adatoms, and periodic modulations arising from electronic effects. Moreover, we find a lateral variation of the surface conductivity that arises from the lattice periodicity of WS2. Three distinct sites are identified, i.e., atop, bridge, and hollow. The current transport across these atomic metal-semiconductor interfaces is understood by considering thermionic emission and Fowler-Nordheim tunnelling. Current modulations arising from point defects and the contact geometry promise a novel route for the direct control of atomic point contacts in diodes and devices.
- Barrier height
- conductive atomic force microscopy
- transition metal dichalcogenides
- atomic contacts