Exfoliation and characterization of natural two-dimensional magnetic flakes

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

Organisational units


Since the discovery of graphene, the field of two-dimensional (2D) materials is rapidly growing, due to their extraordinary physical properties. However, 2D materials with intrinsic magnetism are to some extend prohibited by the Mermin-Wagner theorem and so far no stable 2D magnetic materials - at least under ambient conditions - have been reported. Here, a mineral aggregate from a private mineral collection, exhibiting macroscopic magnetic properties and obvious cleavage, was examined towards 2D magnetism. Analysis of the mineral aggregate revealed that major present phases are sulfidic and oxidic iron compounds such as hematite, magnetite, pyrite, and chalcopyrite. Micromechanical exfoliation was used to prepare nanometer thin flakes from the mineral aggregate. Best flake output and quality was achieved by using only hematite rich parts of the mineral, indicated by their red and transparent appearance. The flakes were transferred onto a Si-wafer with a 300 nm thick SiO2 layer. Fabry-Pérot interference was utilized to identify the few nanometer thick flakes on the wafer in the optical microscope. The flakes were further investigated by Atomic Force Microscopy. Their lateral dimension reached up to 15 µm x 15 µm, while their thickness was reduced by the exfoliation process to only 1.5 nm. Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy revealed Magnesium as a major component of the flakes. Raman spectroscopic measurements revealed presents of hydroxide groups, which points towards the monoclinic Talc Mg3Si4O10(OH)2 crystal structure. Two further Raman peaks, with a Raman shift associated to the vibrational modes of a metal-oxygen bond were found. They are in good agreement with the Raman modes of talc (steatite). Magnetic Force Microscopy in dual-pass as well as plane scan modes was applied to observe magnetic properties of the flakes. The effect of different magnetization of the tip as well as the flakes was studied. This led us to the conclusion that magnetic properties arise from a substitution of Mg atoms with magnetic transition metal atoms - most probably iron atoms - due to the chemistry of the mineral aggregate. The outstanding flake quality, their stability under ambient conditions, as well as their magnetic properties make them interesting for application not only in data storage devices and spintronics but also as a substrate in organic electronics. Therefore, the magnetic flakes were used as a substrate for growth of rod-like organic molecules such as DHTA7 and 6P by hot wall epitaxy. Their complex growth modes need further experimental investigation to be fully understood.


Translated title of the contributionExfolierung und Charakterisierung von natürlichen, zweidimensionalen, magnetischen Schichten
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date19 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018