Two-dimensional (2D) magnets such as chromium trihalides CrX3(X = I, Br, Cl) represent a frontier for spintronics applications and, in particular, CrCl3has attracted research interest due its relative stability under ambient conditions without rapid degradation, as opposed to CrI3. Herein, mechanically exfoliated CrCl3flakes are characterized at the atomic scale and the electronic structures of pristine, oxidized, and defective monolayer CrCl3phases are investigated employing density functional theory (DFT) calculations, scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS), core level X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (XPS), and valence band XPS and ultraviolet photoemission spectroscopy (UPS). As revealed by atomically resolved transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis, the CrCl3flakes show spontaneous surface oxidation upon air exposure with an extrinsic long-range ordered oxidized O-CrCl3structure and amorphous chromium oxide formation on the edges of the flakes. XPS proves that CrCl3is thermally stable up to 200 °C having intrinsically Cl vacancy-defects whose concentration is tunableviathermal annealing up to 400 °C. DFT calculations, supported by experimental valence band analysis, indicate that pure monolayer (ML) CrCl3is an insulator with a band gap of 2.6 eV, while the electronic structures of oxidized and Cl defective phases of ML CrCl3, extrinsically emerging in exfoliated CrCl3flakes, show in-gap spin-polarized states and relevant modifications of the electronic band structures.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Materials Science(all)