Defect Agglomeration and Electron-Beam-Induced Local-Phase Transformations in Single-Layer MoTe2

Atom migrations in single-layer 1H-MoTe2 are studied with Cc/Cs-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscopy at an electron energy of 40 keV using the electron beam simultaneously for material modification and imaging. After creating tellurium vacancies and vacancy lines, we observe their migration pathways across the lattice. Furthermore, we analyze phase transformations from the 1H- to the 1T’-phase associated with the strain induced due to the formation of Te vacancy lines. Combining the experimental data with the results of first-principles calculations, we explain the energetics and driving forces of point- and line-defect migrations and the phase transformations due to an interplay of electron-beam-induced energy input, atom ejection, and strain spread. Our results enhance the understanding of defect dynamics in 2D transition metal dichalcogenides, which should facilitate tailoring their local optical and electronic properties.