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Gold nanoparticles boost performance of photodetectors

31 Jul 2013

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A team of researchers at the National University of Singapore has found a way to enhance the performance of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) photodetectors using gold nanoparticles. The mineral MoS2, which, when solid, behaves in many ways like grease, has semiconducting properties that make it a promising alternative to silicon or graphene in electronic devices. It strongly absorbs visible light, and so it has been widely used in light-sensing photodetectors that are used in environmental sensing, process control in factories and optical communication devices.

Wei Chen, an assistant professor of chemistry and physics, along with graduate student Jia Dan Lin, and their colleagues, applied a single, loosely arranged layer of gold nanoparticles to the top of a MoS2 photodetector. The gold layer, although less than 15 billionths of a meter thick (representing the diameter of each individual nanoparticle) and made up of fewer than 1000 individual particles, improved the photodetectors' efficiency by a factor of three, according to Chen.

"We anticipate orders of magnitude higher improvement of MoS2's sensitivity using a higher density of coated nanoparticles," Chen said.

Chen suspects that the plasmon oscillations (variations in the electron density) of individual nanoparticles, which enhance the local optical field, may be one reason for the improved performance of the photodetectors.

"The next step will focus on varying the materials used to make the nanoparticles, as well as their size, shape, and arrangement," Chen noted, adjustments that will "tune" the plasmon resonance wavelength of the metal nanostructure arrays, making it possible for MoS2 photodetectors to detect multiple colors for the first time.




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