Electrochemically Probing Exciton Transport in Monolayers of Two-Dimensional Semiconductors
Two-dimensional semiconductors (2DSCs) are attractive for a variety of optoelectronic and catalytic applications due to their ability to be fabricated as wide-area, monolayer-thick films and their unique optical and electronic properties which emerge at this scale. One important class of 2DSCs are the transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), which are of particular interest as absorbing layers in ultrathin optoelectronic devices. While TMDs are known to exhibit excellent photovoltaic properties at the bulk level, it is not yet clear how carriers are transported in these materials at thicknesses approaching the monolayer limit, where distinct changes in band structure and the nature of photogenerated carriers occur. Here, it is demonstrated that electrochemical microscopy techniques can be employed as powerful tools for visualizing these processes in 2DSCs, even within individual monlayers. Carrier Generation-Tip Collection Scanning Electrochemical Cell Microscopy (CG-TC SECCM), which utilizes spatially-offset optical and pipet-based electrochemical probes to locally generate and detect photogenerated carriers, was applied to visualize carrier generation and transport within well-defined n-WSe2 samples prepared via mechanical exfoliation. Data from these experiments directly reveal how carrier transport varies within complex 2DSC structures as layer thicknesses approach the monolayer limit. These results not only provide valuable new insights into carrier transport within monolayer TMD materials, but also demonstrate electrochemical imaging to be a powerful, yet underutilized approach for visualizing solid-state processes in semiconducting materials.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Next Generation Nanoelectrochemistry