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Electronic Structure and Optical Signatures of Semiconducting Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Nanosheets

TitleElectronic Structure and Optical Signatures of Semiconducting Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Nanosheets
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsZhao, Weijie, Ribeiro Ricardo Mendes, and Eda Goki
JournalAccounts of Chemical Research
Date Published01/2015
Keywordschemically exfoliated mos2, monolayer mos2, phase-transition, photoluminescence, restacked mos2, single-layer, thermal-expansion, valley polarization, ws2, wse2

CONSPECTUS: Two-dimensional (2D) crystals derived from transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are intriguing materials that offer a unique platform to study fundamental physical phenomena as well as to explore development of novel devices. Semiconducting group 6 TMDs such as MoS2 and WSe2 are known for their large optical absorption coefficient and their potential for high efficiency photovoltaics and photodetectors. Monolayer sheets of these compounds are flexible, stretchable, and soft semiconductors with a direct band gap in contrast to their well-known bulk crystals that are rigid and hard indirect gap semiconductors. Recent intense research has been motivated by the distinct electrical, optical, and mechanical properties of these TMD crystals in the ultimate thickness regime. As a semiconductor with a band gap in the visible to near-IR frequencies, these 2D MX2 materials (M = Mo, W; X = S, Se) exhibit distinct excitonic absorption and emission features. In this Account, we discuss how optical spectroscopy of these materials allows investigation of their electronic properties and the relaxation dynamics of excitons. We first discuss the basic electronic structure of 2D TMDs highlighting the key features of the dispersion relation. With the help of theoretical calculations, we further discuss how photoluminescence energy of direct and indirect excitons provide a guide to understanding the evolution of the electronic structure as a function of the number of layers. We also highlight the behavior of the two competing conduction valleys and their role in the optical processes. Intercalation of group 6 TMDs by alkali metals results in the structural phase transformation with corresponding semiconductor-to-metal transition. Monolayer TMDs obtained by intercalation-assisted exfoliation retains the metastable metallic phase. Mild annealing, however, destabilizes the metastable phase and gradually restores the original semiconducting phase. Interestingly, the semiconducting 2H phase, metallic 1T phase, and a charge-density-wave-like 1T' phase can coexist within a single crystalline monolayer sheet. We further discuss the electronic properties of the restacked films of chemically exfoliated MoS2. Finally, we focus on the strong optical absorption and related exciton relaxation in monolayer and bilayer MX2. Monolayer MX2 absorbs as much as 30% of incident photons in the blue region of the visible light despite being atomically thin. This giant absorption is attributed to nesting of the conduction and valence bands, which leads to diversion of optical conductivity. We describe how the relaxation pathway of excitons depends strongly on the excitation energy. Excitation at the band nesting region is of unique significance because it leads to relaxation of electrons and holes with opposite momentum and spontaneous formation of indirect excitons.


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