Nanoscale Surface Photovoltage Mapping of 2D Materials and Heterostructures by Illuminated Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy

Melinda J. Shearer, Ming-yang Li, Lain-Jong Li, Song Jin, Robert J Hamers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Nanomaterials are interesting for a variety of applications, such as optoelectronics and photovoltaics. However, they often have spatial heterogeneity, i.e. composition change or physical change in the topography or structure, which can lead to varying properties that would influence their applications. New techniques must be developed to understand and correlate spatial heterogeneity with changes in electronic properties. Here we highlight the technique of surface photovoltage-Kelvin probe force microscopy (SPV-KFM), which is a modified version of non-contact atomic force microscopy capable of imaging not only the topography and surface potential, but also the surface photovoltage on the nanoscale. We demonstrate its utility in probing monolayer WSe2-MoS2 lateral heterostructures, which form an ultrathin p-n junction promising for photovoltaic and optoelectronic applications. We show surface photovoltage maps highlighting the different photoresponse of the two material regions as a result of the effective charge separation across this junction. Additionally, we study the variations between different heterostructure flakes and emphasize the importance of controlling the synthesis and transfer of these materials to obtain consistent properties and measurements.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13564-13571
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jan 31 2018

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Division of Materials Science and Engineering, under Award DE-FG02-09ER46664. M.J.S. also thanks the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program under Grant No. DGE-1256259 for support. Support was also provided by the Graduate School and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.


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