Long Yuan's Dissertation v3.pdf (8.01 MB)

Spatial and Temporal Imaging of Exciton Dynamics and transport in two-dimensional Semiconductors and heterostructures by ultrafast transient absorption microscopy

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posted on 10.06.2019 by Long Yuan
Recently, atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) layered materials such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) have emerged as a new class of materials due to their unique electronic structures and optical properties at the nanoscale limit. 2D materials also hold great promises as building blocks for creating new heterostructures for optoelectronic applications such as atomically thin photovoltaics, light emitting diodes, and photodetectors. Understanding the fundamental photo-physics process in 2D semiconductors and heterostructures is critical for above-mentioned applications.
In Chapter 1, we briefly describe photo-generated charge carriers in two-dimensional (2D) transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) semiconductors and heterostructures. Due to the reduced dielectric screening in the single-layer or few-layer of TMDCs semiconductors, Columbo interaction between electron and hole in the exciton is greatly enhanced that leads to extraordinary large exciton binding energy compared with bulk semiconductors. The environmental robust 2D excitons provide an ideal platform to study exciton properties in TMDCs semiconductors. Since layers in 2D materials are holding by weak van de Waals interaction, different 2D layers could be assembled together to make 2D heterostructures. The successful preparation of 2D heterostructures paves a new path to explore intriguing optoelectronic properties.
In Chapter 2, we introduce various optical microscopy techniques used in our work for the optical characterization of 2D semiconductors and heterostructures. These optical imaging tools with high spatial and temporal resolution allow us to directly track charge and energy flow at 2D interfaces.
Exciton recombination is a critical factor in determining the efficiency for optoelectronic applications such as semiconductor lasers and light-emitting diodes. Although exciton dynamics have been investigated in different 2D semiconductor, large variations in sample qualities due to different preparation methods have prevented obtaining intrinsic exciton lifetimes from being conclusively established. In Chapter 3, we study exciton dynamics in 2D TMDCs semiconductors using ultrafast PL and transient absorption microscopy. Here we employ 2D WS2 semiconductor as a model system to study exciton dynamics due to the low defect density and high quantum yield of WS2. We mainly focus on how the exciton population affects exciton dynamics. At low exciton density regime, we demonstrate how the interlayer between the bright and dark exciton populations influence exciton recombination. At high exciton density regime, we exhibit significant exciton-exciton annihilation in monolayer WS2. When comparing with the bilayer and trilayer WS2, the exciton-exciton annihilation rate in monolayer WS2 increases by two orders of magnitude due to enhanced many-body interactions at single layer limit.
Long-range transport of 2D excitons is desirable for optoelectronic applications based on TMDCs semiconductors. However, there still lacks a comprehensive understanding of the intrinsic limit for exciton transport in the TMDCs materials currently. In Chapter 4, we employ ultrafast transient absorption microscopy that is capable of imaging excitons transport with ~ 200 fs temporal resolution and ~ 50 nm spatial precision to track exciton motion in 2D WS2 with different thickness. Our results demonstrate that exciton mobility in single layer WS2 is largely limited by extrinsic factors such as charge impurities and surface phonons of the substrate. The intrinsic phonon-limited exciton transport is achieved in WS2 layers with a thickness greater than 20 layers.
Efficient photocarrier generation and separation at 2D interfaces remain a central challenge for many optoelectronic applications based on 2D heterostructures. The structural tunability of 2D nanostructures along with atomically thin and sharp 2D interfaces provides new opportunities for controlling charge transfer (CT) interactions at 2D interfaces. A largely unexplored question is how interlayer CT interactions contribute to interfacial photo-carrier generation and separation in 2D heterostructures. In Chapter 5, we present a joint experimental and theoretical study to address carrier generation from interlayer CT transitions in WS2-graphene heterostructures. We use spatially resolved ultrafast transient absorption microscopy to elucidate the role of interlayer coupling on charge transfer and photo-carrier generation in WS2-graphene heterostructures. These results demonstrate efficient broadband photo-carrier generation in WS2-graphene heterostructures which is highly desirable for atomically thin photovoltaic and photodetector applications based on graphene and 2D semiconductors.
CT exciton transport at heterointerfaces plays a critical role in light to electricity conversion using 2D heterostructures. One of the challenges is that direct measurements of CT exciton transport require quantitative information in both spatial and temporal domains. In order to address this challenge, we employ transient absorption microscopy (TAM) with high temporal and spatial resolution to image both bright and dark CT excitons in WS2-tetrance and CVD WS2-WSe2 heterostructure. In Chapter 6, we study the formation and transport of interlayer CT excitons in 2D WS2-Tetracene vdW heterostructures. TAM measurements of CT exciton transport at these 2D interfaces reveal coexistence of delocalized and localized CT excitons. The highly mobile delocalized CT excitons could be the key factor to overcome large CT exciton binding energy in achieving efficient charge separation. In Chapter 7, we study stacking orientational dependent interlayer exciton recombination and transport in CVD WS2-WSe2 heterostructures. Temperature-dependent interlayer exciton dynamics measurements suggest the existence of moiré potential that localizes interlayer excitons. TAM measurements of interlayer excitons transport reveal that CT excitons at WS2-WSe2 heterointerface are much more mobile than intralayer excitons of WS2. We attributed this to the dipole-dipole repulsion from bipolar interlayer excitons that efficiently screen the moiré potential fluctuations and facilitate interlayer exciton transport. Our results provide fundamental insights in understanding the influence of moiré potential on interlayer exciton dynamics and transport in CVD WS2-WSe2 heterostructures which has important implications in optoelectronic applications such as atomically thin photovoltaics and light harvesting devices.


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Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy



Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Libai Huang

Additional Committee Member 2

Shelley A. Claridge

Additional Committee Member 3

Jianguo Mei

Additional Committee Member 4

Adam Wasserman