Highly efficient gate-tunable photocurrent generation in vertical heterostructures of layered materials

Nat Nanotechnol. 2013 Dec;8(12):952-8. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2013.219. Epub 2013 Oct 27.


Layered materials of graphene and MoS₂, for example, have recently emerged as an exciting material system for future electronics and optoelectronics. Vertical integration of layered materials can enable the design of novel electronic and photonic devices. Here, we report highly efficient photocurrent generation from vertical heterostructures of layered materials. We show that vertically stacked graphene-MoS₂-graphene and graphene-MoS₂-metal junctions can be created with a broad junction area for efficient photon harvesting. The weak electrostatic screening effect of graphene allows the integration of single or dual gates under and/or above the vertical heterostructure to tune the band slope and photocurrent generation. We demonstrate that the amplitude and polarity of the photocurrent in the gated vertical heterostructures can be readily modulated by the electric field of an external gate to achieve a maximum external quantum efficiency of 55% and internal quantum efficiency up to 85%. Our study establishes a method to control photocarrier generation, separation and transport processes using an external electric field.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electronics / instrumentation
  • Graphite / chemistry*
  • Materials Testing
  • Molybdenum / chemistry*
  • Nanostructures / chemistry*
  • Photons
  • Sulfates / chemistry*


  • Sulfates
  • Graphite
  • Molybdenum