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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The role of collective motion in the ultrafast charge transfer in van der Waals heterostructures


The success of van der Waals heterostructures made of graphene, metal dichalcogenides and other layered materials, hinges on the understanding of charge transfer across the interface as the foundation for new device concepts and applications. In contrast to conventional heterostructures, where a strong interfacial coupling is essential to charge transfer, recent experimental findings indicate that van der Waals heterostructues can exhibit ultrafast charge transfer despite the weak binding of these heterostructures. Here we find, using time-dependent density functional theory molecular dynamics, that the collective motion of excitons at the interface leads to plasma oscillations associated with optical excitation. By constructing a simple model of the van der Waals heterostructure, we show that there exists an unexpected criticality of the oscillations, yielding rapid charge transfer across the interface. Application to the MoS2/WS2 heterostructure yields good agreement with experiments, indicating near complete charge transfer within a timescale of 100 fs.

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