Imaging of pure spin-valley diffusion current in WS2-WSe2 heterostructures

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Science  25 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6391, pp. 893-896
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3503

Tracking the spin-valley current

Taking advantage of the electron's spin and valley degrees of freedom requires a method for generating currents of carriers that have a particular spin or come from a particular valley in the electronic structure. Jin et al. used a heterostructure made out of adjacent layers of WSe2 and WS2 to create a spin-valley diffusion current without applying an external electric field. Instead, they used circularly polarized laser light to initiate the diffusion and a second laser pulse to image the propagation of the carriers. With long lifetimes and diffusion lengths, the method may be of practical use in future valleytronic devices.

Science, this issue p. 893


Transition metal dichalcogenide (TMDC) materials are promising for spintronic and valleytronic applications because valley-polarized excitations can be generated and manipulated with circularly polarized photons and the valley and spin degrees of freedom are locked by strong spin-orbital interactions. In this study we demonstrate efficient generation of a pure and locked spin-valley diffusion current in tungsten disulfide (WS2)–tungsten diselenide (WSe2) heterostructures without any driving electric field. We imaged the propagation of valley current in real time and space by pump-probe spectroscopy. The valley current in the heterostructures can live for more than 20 microseconds and propagate over 20 micrometers; both the lifetime and the diffusion length can be controlled through electrostatic gating. The high-efficiency and electric-field–free generation of a locked spin-valley current in TMDC heterostructures holds promise for applications in spin and valley devices.

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