Abstract: Due to the atomic thickness and planar characteristics, two-dimensional (2D) materials such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are considered to be excellent electronic materials, which endow them with great potential for future device applications. The robust and reliable application of their functional devices requires an in-depth understanding of their mechanical properties and deformation behavior, which is also of fundamental importance in nanomechanics. Considering their exceedingly small sizes and thicknesses, this is a very challenge task. In situ microscopy techniques show great superiority in this respect. This review focuses on the progress in in situ microscopy techniques (including atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM)) in characterizing the mechanical properties and deformation behavior of 2D materials. The technical characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, and main research fields of various in situ AFM, SEM, and TEM techniques are analyzed in detail, and the corresponding mechanical scenarios from point to plane are realized, including local indentation, planar stretching, friction sliding between atomic layers and atomic movement mechanisms. By virtue of their complementary advantages, in situ integrated microscopy techniques enable the simultaneous study of various mechanical properties, nanomechanical behavior, and inherent atomic mechanisms of 2D materials. Based on the present research, we look forward to further optimized in situ integrated microscopy techniques with high spatiotemporal atomic resolution that can reveal the dynamic structure-performance correlations and corresponding atomic mechanisms between the physical properties, such as mechanical, electrical, optical, thermal, and magnetic properties of 2D materials and their crystal structures, electronic structures, atomic layers, defect densities and other influencing factors under multifield coupling conditions. This will provide beneficial predictions and guidance for the design, construction and application of 2D material-based mechanoelectronic, piezoelectric, photoelectric, thermoelectric, etc. nanoelectronic devices.

In situ microscopy techniques for characterizing the mechanical properties and deformation behavior of two-dimensional (2D) materials
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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2021.10.009