AFM and Raman studies of topological insulator materials subject to argon plasma etching

Isaac Childres, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Jifa Tian, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Ireneusz Miotkowski, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Yong P. Chen, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



Isaac Childres , Jifa Tian , Ireneusz Miotkowski & Yong Chen Pages 681-689 | Received 14 Jun 2012, Accepted 03 Sep 2012, Published online: 26 Sep 2012


Plasma etching is an important tool in nano-device fabrication. We report a study on argon plasma etching of topological insulator materials Bi2Se3, Bi2Te3, Sb2Te3 and Bi2Te2Se using exfoliated flakes (with starting thicknesses of approximate to 100nm) derived from bulk crystals. We present data mainly from atomic force microscopy (AFM) and Raman spectroscopy. Through AFM measurements, plasma exposure is observed to decrease the thickness of our samples and increase surface roughness (with height fluctuations reaching as large as approximate to 20nm). We extract an etching rate for each type of material. Plasma exposure also causes a widening (especially ) of the characteristic Raman peaks, with no significant change in peak position. The overall Raman intensity is observed to initially increase then decrease sharply after the samples are etched below approximate to 20nm in thickness. Our findings are valuable for understanding the effects of argon plasma etching on topological insulator materials.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology