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Unipolar barrier photodetectors based on van der Waals heterostructures

Abstract

Unipolar barrier structures are used to suppress dark current in photodetectors by blocking majority carriers. Designing unipolar barriers with conventional materials is challenging due to the strict requirements of lattice and band matching. Two-dimensional materials have self-passivated surfaces and tunable band structures, and can thus be used to design unipolar barriers in which lattice mismatch and interface defects are avoided. Here, we show that band-engineered van der Waals heterostructures can be used to build visible and mid-wavelength infrared unipolar barrier photodetectors. Our nBn unipolar barrier photodetectors, which are based on a tungsten disulfide/hexagonal boron nitride/palladium diselenide heterostructure, exhibit a low dark current of 15 pA, a photocurrent of 20 μA and a detectivity of 2.7 × 1012 cm Hz1/2 W−1. Our pBp unipolar barrier photodetectors, which are based on a black phosphorus/molybdenum disulfide/graphene heterostructure, exhibit a room-temperature detectivity of 2.3 × 1010 cm Hz1/2 W−1 in the mid-wavelength infrared region under blackbody radiation. The pBp devices also show a dichroic ratio of 4.9 under blackbody radiation, and a response time of 23 μs under 2 μm laser illumination.

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Fig. 1: Band diagrams and dark-current mechanisms of unipolar barrier photodetectors.
Fig. 2: Optoelectronic characteristics of nBn vdW unipolar barrier photodetectors at room temperature.
Fig. 3: Optoelectronic characteristics of pBp vdW unipolar barrier MWIR photodetectors at room temperature.
Fig. 4: Performance comparison of the vdW unipolar barrier photodetectors with previous photodetectors at room temperature.

Data availability

Data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

W.H. acknowledges support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant nos. 61725505, 11734016 and 61521005), National Key Research and Development Programme of China (grant no. 2020YFB2009300), Research Project of Frontier Science of CAS (grant no. QYZDB-SSW-JSC031) and Fund of Shanghai Natural Science Foundation (grant no. 19XD1404100). Yunfeng Chen and Z.W. acknowledge support from the Fund of SITP Innovation Foundation (grant nos. CX-235 and 348).

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Contributions

W.H. and P.Z. conceived the idea and designed the experiments. Yunfeng Chen and Y.W. carried out most of the experiments and analysed the data. P.W., P.Z., J.M., X.Chen, W.L. and Z.H. analysed the data. Y.G., R.X. and Q.L. contributed to the theoretical calculations. Y.Y. and F.W. performed Raman measurements. X.Chai and Y.Z. carried out Fourier transform infrared measurements. J.Y. and L.Z. conducted the atomic force microscopy measurements. Yan Chen and J.W. conducted the Kelvin probe force microscopy measurements. W.H. was responsible for project planning. Yunfeng Chen, Y.W., Z.W., P.Z. and W.H. co-wrote the manuscript. All authors discussed the results.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Peng Zhou or Weida Hu.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Electronics thanks Jiansheng Jie and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs, 1–33, Tables 1 and 2 and notes 1 and 2.

Supplementary Data 1

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Chen, Y., Wang, Y., Wang, Z. et al. Unipolar barrier photodetectors based on van der Waals heterostructures. Nat Electron 4, 357–363 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-021-00586-w

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