Quantum optoelectronics in 2D materials
2D layered materials are naturally occurring and synthetic systems that are composed of sheets of atoms that are only a few atomic layers thick in one dimension and extended in the other two dimensions. Such layered materials can form semiconductors, insulators, superconductors, metals, and other exotic quantum systems such as topological insulators. Several research activities in the Borys Lab focus on using optical spectroscopy to explore, discover, and manipulate the optical and electronic properties of 2D layered materials. By understanding the intricate details behind how 2D materials absorb and emit light, we gain deep insight into their underlying quantum mechanical optical and electronic behavior. Furthermore, with specialized nano-optical and time-resolved optical imaging and spectroscopy tools, we study quantum phenomena in 2D materials on time scales as small as a picosecond (10^-12 s) and at length scales as small as 10 nm (10^-8 m). At these extremes of time and space, we can often discover hidden effects that are missed with other more conventional and less sophisticated techniques, leading to new routes to utilize these materials in technologies ranging from high-performance solar cells and sensors to next-generation applications in quantum information science.
A schematic of a 2D semiconductor is shown to the left. These systems are composed of a sheet of transition metal atoms (e.g. Mo or W) that are sandwiched between two sheets of chalcogen atoms (e.g. S or Se). A single sheet of these atoms is a fully functional semiconductor (like the Si in your phone) and exhibits remarkably strong light-matter interactions, absorbing about 10% of incident visible light and emitting light at high efficiency (unlike the Si in your phone!). Additionally, because these materials are atomically thin and have unique crystalline symmetry, they also possess a suite of interesting quantum mechanical properties that directly interface to their strong optical properties, making them a great platform to use optical techniques to probe and manipulate quantum phenomena in a solid-state system. From new ways to build a light source that can produce a single photon at a time, to new materials from which to construct qubits, 2D semiconductors have a lot of potential to be important material systems for the next quantum revolution because of this fantastic convergence of properties. Alongside a deep curiosity and love for quantum phenomena, this potential for applications is a significant driver for our research in 2D semiconductors and other 2D quantum materials.