Integrating van der Waals materials on paper substrates for electrical and optical applications

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Paper holds the promise to replace silicon substrates in applications like internet of things or disposable electronics that require ultra-low-cost electronic components and an environmentally friendly electronic waste management. In the last years, spurred by the abovementioned properties of paper as a substrate and the exceptional electronic, mechanical and optical properties of van der Waals (vdW) materials, many research groups have worked towards the integration of vdW materials-based devices on paper. Recently, a method to deposit a continuous film of densely packed interconnects of vdW materials on paper by simply rubbing the vdW crystals against the rough surface of paper has been presented. This method utilizes the weak interlayer vdW interactions and allows cleaving of the crystals into micro platelets through the abrasion against the paper. Here, we aim to illustrate the general character and the potential of this technique by fabricating films of 39 different vdW materials (including superconductors, semi-metals, semiconductors, and insulators) on standard copy paper. We have thoroughly characterized their optical properties showing their high optical quality: one can easily resolve the absorption band edge of semiconducting vdW materials and even the excitonic features present in some vdW materials with high exciton binding energy. We also measured the electrical resistivity for several vdW materials films on paper finding exceptionally low values, which are in some cases, orders of magnitude lower than those reported for analogous films produced by inkjet printing. We finally demonstrate the fabrication of field-effect devices with vdW materials on paper using the paper substrate as an ionic gate.