Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

'Odd couple' monolayer semiconductors align to advance optoelectronics

18.04.2016

Epitaxy, or growing crystalline film layers that are templated by a crystalline substrate, is a mainstay of manufacturing transistors and semiconductors. If the material in one deposited layer is the same as the material in the next layer, it can be energetically favorable for strong bonds to form between the highly ordered, perfectly matched layers. In contrast, trying to layer dissimilar materials is a great challenge if the crystal lattices don't match up easily. Then, weak van der Waals forces create attraction but don't form strong bonds between unlike layers.

In a study led by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, scientists synthesized a stack of atomically thin monolayers of two lattice-mismatched semiconductors. One, gallium selenide, is a "p-type" semiconductor, rich in charge carriers called "holes." The other, molybdenum diselenide, is an "n-type" semiconductor, rich in electron charge carriers.


Light drives the migration of charge carriers (electrons and holes) at the juncture between semiconductors with mismatched crystal lattices. These heterostructures hold promise for advancing optoelectronics and exploring new physics. The schematic's background is a scanning transmission electron microscope image showing the bilayer in atomic-scale resolution.

Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Dept. of Energy. Image by Xufan Li and Chris Rouleau

Where the two semiconductor layers met, they formed an atomically sharp heterostructure called a p-n junction, which generated a photovoltaic response by separating electron-hole pairs that were generated by light. The achievement of creating this atomically thin solar cell, published in Science Advances, shows the promise of synthesizing mismatched layers to enable new families of functional two-dimensional (2D) materials.

The idea of stacking different materials on top of each other isn't new by itself. In fact, it is the basis for most electronic devices in use today. But such stacking usually only works when the individual materials have crystal lattices that are very similar, i.e., they have a good "lattice match." This is where this research breaks new ground by growing high-quality layers of very different 2D materials, broadening the number of materials that can be combined and thus creating a wider range of potential atomically thin electronic devices.

"Because the two layers had such a large lattice mismatch between them, it's very unexpected that they would grow on each other in an orderly way," said ORNL's Xufan Li, lead author of the study. "But it worked."

The group was the first to show that monolayers of two different types of metal chalcogenides--binary compounds of sulfur, selenium or tellurium with a more electropositive element or radical--having such different lattice constants can be grown together to form a perfectly aligned stacking bilayer. "It's a new, potential building block for energy-efficient optoelectronics," Li said.

Upon characterizing their new bilayer building block, the researchers found that the two mismatched layers had self-assembled into a repeating long-range atomic order that could be directly visualized by the Moiré patterns they showed in the electron microscope. "We were surprised that these patterns aligned perfectly," Li said.

Researchers in ORNL's Functional Hybrid Nanomaterials group, led by David Geohegan, conducted the study with partners at Vanderbilt University, the University of Utah and Beijing Computational Science Research Center.

"These new 2D mismatched layered heterostructures open the door to novel building blocks for optoelectronic applications," said senior author Kai Xiao of ORNL. "They can allow us to study new physics properties which cannot be discovered with other 2D heterostructures with matched lattices. They offer potential for a wide range of physical phenomena ranging from interfacial magnetism, superconductivity and Hofstadter's butterfly effect."

Li first grew a monolayer of molybdenum diselenide, and then grew a layer of gallium selenide on top. This technique, called "van der Waals epitaxy," is named for the weak attractive forces that hold dissimilar layers together. "With van der Waals epitaxy, despite big lattice mismatches, you can still grow another layer on the first," Li said. Using scanning transmission electron microscopy, the team characterized the atomic structure of the materials and revealed the formation of Moiré patterns.

The scientists plan to conduct future studies to explore how the material aligns during the growth process and how material composition influences properties beyond the photovoltaic response. The research advances efforts to incorporate 2D materials into devices.

For many years, layering different compounds with similar lattice cell sizes has been widely studied. Different elements have been incorporated into the compounds to produce a wide range of physical properties related to superconductivity, magnetism and thermoelectrics. But layering 2D compounds having dissimilar lattice cell sizes is virtually unexplored territory.

"We've opened the door to exploring all types of mismatched heterostructures," Li said.

The title of the paper is "Two-dimensional GaSe/MoSe2 misfit bilayer heterojunctions by van der Waals epitaxy."

###

Research, including materials synthesis, was supported by the DOE Office of Science. Materials characterization was conducted in part at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a DOE Office of Science User Facility at ORNL. ORNL Laboratory Directed Research and Development funds supported some of the device measurements in the study.

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE's Office of Science. The single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

For more information, please visit www.science.energy.gov. --by Dawn Levy

CAPTION/CREDIT: Light drives the migration of charge carriers (electrons and holes) at the juncture between semiconductors with mismatched crystal lattices. These heterostructures hold promise for advancing optoelectronics and exploring new physics. The schematic's background is a scanning transmission electron microscope image showing the bilayer in atomic-scale resolution. Image credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy. Image by Xufan Li and Chris Rouleau

Media Contact

Dawn Levy
levyd@ornl.gov
865-576-6448

 @ORNL

http://www.ornl.gov 

Dawn Levy | EurekAlert!

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Gelatine instead of forearm
19.04.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt

nachricht Computers create recipe for two new magnetic materials
18.04.2017 | Duke University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>