Ph.D. Public Defense

Optical Properties of Excitonic Complexes in Monolayer Transition-Metal Dichalcogenides

Min Yang

Supervised by Hanan Dery

Friday, September 9, 2022
11:30 a.m.

Computer Studies Building 426

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The valley degree of freedom is a sought-after quantum number in monolayer transition-metal dichalcogenides. Similar to optical spin orientation in semiconductors, the helicity of absorbed photons can be relayed to the valley (pseudospin) quantum number of photoexcited electrons and holes. Also similar to the quantum-mechanical spin, the valley quantum number is not a conserved quantity. Valley depolarization of excitons in monolayer transition-metal dichalcogenides due to long-range electron-hole exchange typically takes a few ps at low temperatures. Exceptions to this behavior are monolayers MoSe2 and MoTe2 wherein the depolarization is much faster. We elucidate the enigmatic anomaly of these materials, finding that it originates from Rashba-induced coupling of the dark and bright exciton branches next to their degeneracy point. When photoexcited excitons scatter during their energy relaxation between states next to the degeneracy region, they reach the light cone after losing the initial helicity. The valley depolarization is not as fast in monolayers WSe2, WS2 and MoS2 wherein the degeneracy is absent resulting in negligible Rashba-induced coupling between bright and dark excitons.

We also present photoluminescence measurements in monolayer WSe2, which point to the importance of the interaction between charged particles and excitonic complexes. The theoretical analysis highlights the key role played by exchange scattering, referring to cases wherein the particle composition of the complex changes after the interaction. For example, exchange scattering renders bright excitonic complexes dark in monolayer WSe2 on account of the unique valley-spin configuration in this material. In addition to the ultrafast energy relaxation of hot excitonic complexes following their interaction with electrons or holes, our analysis sheds light on several key features that are commonly seen in the photo- luminescence of this monolayer semiconductor. In particular, we can understand why the photoluminescence intensity of the neutral bright exciton is strongest when the monolayer is hole-doped rather than charge neutral or electron-doped. Similarly, we can understand the reason for the dramatic increase of the photoluminescence intensity of negatively charged excitons (trions) as soon as electrons are added to the monolayer. To self-consistently explain the findings, we further study the photoluminescence spectra at different excitation energies and analyze the behavior of the elusive indirect exciton.