The photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

May 11, 2018

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as the camera you have in your phone. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for light detectors can offer significant improvements with respect to materials being used nowadays. For example, graphene can detect light of almost any colour, and it gives an extremely fast electronic response within one millionth of a millionth of a second. Thus, in order to properly design graphene-based light detectors it is crucial to understand the processes that take place inside the graphene after it absorbs light.

A team of European scientists including ICFO from Barcelona (Spain), IIT from Genova (Italy), the University of Exeter from Exeter (UK) and Johannes Gutenberg University from Mainz (Germany), have now succeeded in understanding these processes. Published recently in Science Advances, their work gives a thorough explanation of why, in some cases, the graphene conductivity increases after light absorption and in other cases, it decreases. The researchers show that this behaviour correlates with the way in which energy from absorbed light flows to the graphene electrons: After light is absorbed by the graphene, the processes through which graphene electrons heat up happen extremely fast and with a very high efficiency.

For highly doped graphene (where many free electrons are present), ultrafast electron heating leads to carriers with elevated energy - hot carriers - which, in turn, leads to a decrease in conductivity. Interestingly enough, for weakly doped graphene (where not so many free electrons are present), electron heating leads to the creation of additional free electrons, and therefore an increase in conductivity. These additional carriers are the direct result of the gapless nature of graphene - in gapped materials, electron heating does not lead to additional free carriers.

This simple scenario of light-induced electron heating in graphene can explain many observed effects. Aside from describing the conductive properties of the material after light absorption, it can explain carrier multiplication, where - under specific conditions - one absorbed light particle (photon) can indirectly generate more than one additional free electron, and thus create an efficient photoresponse within a device.

The results of the paper, in particular, understanding electron heating processes accurately, will definitely mean a great boost in the design and development of graphene-based light detection technology.
-end-
This work was funded by the E.C. under Graphene Flagship, as well as a Mineco Young Investigator grant.

ICFO-The Institute of Photonic Sciences

Related Graphene Articles from Brightsurf:

How to stack graphene up to four layers
IBS research team reports a novel method to grow multi-layered, single-crystalline graphene with a selected stacking order in a wafer scale.

Graphene-Adsorbate van der Waals bonding memory inspires 'smart' graphene sensors
Electric field modulation of the graphene-adsorbate interaction induces unique van der Waals (vdW) bonding which were previously assumed to be randomized by thermal energy after the electric field is turned off.

Graphene: It is all about the toppings
The way graphene interacts with other materials depends on how these materials are brought into contact with the graphene.

Discovery of graphene switch
Researchers at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) successfully developed the special in-situ transmission electron microscope technique to measure the current-voltage curve of graphene nanoribbon (GNR) with observing the edge structure and found that the electrical conductance of narrow GNRs with a zigzag edge structure abruptly increased above the critical bias voltage, indicating that which they are expected to be applied to switching devices, which are the smallest in the world.

New 'brick' for nanotechnology: Graphene Nanomesh
Researchers at Japan advanced institute of science and technology (JAIST) successfully fabricated suspended graphene nanomesh (GNM) by using the focused helium ion beam technology.

Flatter graphene, faster electrons
Scientists from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel developed a technique to flatten corrugations in graphene layers.

Graphene Flagship publishes handbook of graphene manufacturing
The EU-funded research project Graphene Flagship has published a comprehensive guide explaining how to produce and process graphene and related materials (GRMs).

How to induce magnetism in graphene
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechani-cal, electronic and optical properties.

Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets
New research by engineers at the University of Illinois combines atomic-scale experimentation with computer modeling to determine how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene -- a question that has eluded scientists since graphene was first isolated.

How do you know it's perfect graphene?
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered an indicator that reliably demonstrates a sample's high quality, and it was one that was hiding in plain sight for decades.

Read More: Graphene News and Graphene Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.