Anisotropic 2D excitons unveiled in organic–inorganic quantum wells†
Two-dimensional (2D) excitons arise from electron–hole confinement along one spatial dimension. Such excitations are often described in terms of Frenkel or Wannier limits according to the degree of exciton spatial localization and the surrounding dielectric environment. In hybrid material systems, such as the 2D perovskites, the complex underlying interactions lead to excitons of an intermediate nature, whose description lies somewhere between the two limits, and a better physical description is needed. Here, we explore the photophysics of a tuneable materials platform where covalently bonded metal-chalcogenide layers are spaced by organic ligands that provide confinement barriers for charge carriers in the inorganic layer. We consider self-assembled, layered bulk silver benzeneselenolate, [AgSePh]∞, and use a combination of transient absorption spectroscopy and ab initio GW plus Bethe–Salpeter equation calculations. We demonstrate that in this non-polar dielectric environment, strongly anisotropic excitons dominate the optical transitions of [AgSePh]∞. We find that the transient absorption measurements at room temperature can be understood in terms of low-lying excitons confined to the AgSe planes with in-plane anisotropy, featuring anisotropic absorption and emission. Finally, we present a pathway to control the exciton behaviour by changing the chalcogen in the material lattice. Our studies unveil unexpected excitonic anisotropies in an unexplored class of tuneable, yet air-stable, hybrid quantum wells, offering design principles for the engineering of an ordered, yet complex dielectric environment and its effect on the excitonic phenomena in such emerging materials.