Exciton and charge carrier dynamics in few-layer WS2†
Semiconducting transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) have been applied as the active layer in photodetectors and solar cells, displaying substantial charge photogeneration yields. However, their large exciton binding energy, which increases with decreasing thickness (number of layers), as well as the strong resonance peaks in the absorption spectra suggest that excitons are the primary photoexcited states. Detailed time-domain studies of the photoexcitation dynamics in TMDs exist mostly for MoS2. Here, we use femtosecond optical spectroscopy to study the exciton and charge dynamics following impulsive photoexcitation in few-layer WS2. We confirm excitons as the primary photoexcitation species and find that they dissociate into charge pairs with a time constant of about 1.3 ps. The better separation of the spectral features compared to MoS2 allows us to resolve a previously undetected process: these charges diffuse through the samples and get trapped at defects, such as flake edges or grain boundaries, causing an appreciable change of their transient absorption spectra. This finding opens the way to further studies of traps in TMD samples with different defect contents.