Structural phase transition in monolayer MoTe2 driven by electrostatic doping
Monolayers of transition-metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) exhibit numerous crystal phases with distinct structures, symmetries and physical properties1,2,3. Exploring the physics of transitions between these different structural phases in two dimensions4 may provide a means of switching material properties, with implications for potential applications. Structural phase transitions in TMDs have so far been induced by thermal or chemical means5,6; purely electrostatic control over crystal phases through electrostatic doping was recently proposed as a theoretical possibility, but has not yet been realized7,8. Here we report the experimental demonstration of an electrostatic-doping-driven phase transition between the hexagonal and monoclinic phases of monolayer molybdenum ditelluride (MoTe2). We find that the phase transition shows a hysteretic loop in Raman spectra, and can be reversed by increasing or decreasing the gate voltage. We also combine second-harmonic generation spectroscopy with polarization-resolved Raman spectroscopy to show that the induced monoclinic phase preserves the crystal orientation of the original hexagonal phase. Moreover, this structural phase transition occurs simultaneously across the whole sample. This electrostatic-doping control of structural phase transition opens up new possibilities for developing phase-change devices based on atomically thin membranes.