2D Ti3C2 T x MXenes were recently shown to exhibit intense surface plasmon (SP) excitations; however, their spatial variation over individual Ti3C2 T x flakes remains undiscovered. Here, we use scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) combined with ultra-high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) to investigate the spatial and energy distribution of SPs (both optically active and forbidden modes) in mono- and multilayered Ti3C2 T x flakes. With STEM-EELS mapping, the inherent interband transition in addition to a variety of transversal and longitudinal SP modes (ranging from visible down to 0.1 eV in MIR) are directly visualized and correlated with the shape, size, and thickness of Ti3C2 T x flakes. The independent polarizability of Ti3C2 T x monolayers is unambiguously demonstrated and attributed to their unusual weak interlayer coupling. This characteristic allows for engineering a class of nanoscale systems, where each monolayer in the multilayered structure of Ti3C2 T x has its own set of SPs with distinctive multipolar characters. Moreover, the tunability of the SP energies is highlighted by conducting in situ heating STEM to monitor the change of the surface functionalization of Ti3C2 T x through annealing at temperatures up to 900 °C. At temperatures above 500 °C, the observed fluorine (F) desorption multiplies the metal-like free electron density of Ti3C2 T x flakes, resulting in a monotonic blue-shift in the SP energy of all modes. These results underline the great potential for the development of Ti3C2 T x-based applications, spanning the visible-MIR spectrum, relying on the excitation and detection of single SPs.
Bibliographical noteKAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: Research reported in this publication was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The authors would like to thank Ahmed El-Zohry, Hyunho Kim, Abeer Ahmed, Andrey Chuvilin, and Alexander Govyadinov for their fruitful discussions.