Frontiers of Physics


ISSN 2095-0462 (Print)
ISSN 2095-0470 (Online)
CN 11-5994/O4
Postal Subscription Code 80-965
2019 Impact Factor: 2.502
Heterojunction and Its Applications (Ed. Chenghua Sun)

Heterojunction is featured with an interface between two different components. Due to their unequal electronic structures, like Fermi energy, band gap, and band edges, charge transfer and interfacial charge separations are often resulted. This offers large space for rational design of advanced heterojunctions towards various applications, such as solar cells, catalysts and transistors. This special topic collects 15 articles on this topic, covering the applications in photocatalysis, solar cells, hydrogen production, hydrogen storage, etc. 

     Dr. Chenghua Sun obtained his PhD (2008) in Materials Science under the co-supervision of Professor Hui-Ming Cheng and Professor Max Lu at Institute of Metal Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China. Dr. Sun joined the University of Queensland as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 2007 and got the Faculty Position (Lecturer) in Monash University in 2013. Since 2017, Dr. Sun have been as an Associate Professor at Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Over the last twenty years, Dr. Sun has been working on Computational Materials.


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Enhancing hydrogen evolution of MoS2 basal planes by combining single-boron catalyst and compressive strain
Zhitao Cui, Wei Du, Chengwei Xiao, Qiaohong Li, Rongjian Sa, Chenghua Sun, Zuju Ma
Front. Phys. .  2020, 15 (6): 63502.
Abstract   PDF (2576KB)

MoS2 is a promising candidate for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), while its active sites are mainly distributed on the edge sites rather than the basal plane sites. Herein, a strategy to overcome the inertness of the MoS2 basal surface and achieve high HER activity by combining single-boron catalyst and compressive strain was reported through density functional theory (DFT) computations. The ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulation on B@MoS2 suggests high thermodynamic and kinetic stability. We found that the rather strong adsorption of hydrogen by B@MoS2 can be alleviated by stress engineering. The optimal stress of −7% can achieve a nearly zero value of ΔGH (~ −0.084 eV), which is close to that of the ideal Pt–SACs for HER. The novel HER activity is attributed to (i) the B– doping brings the active site to the basal plane of MoS2 and reduces the band-gap, thereby increasing the conductivity; (ii) the compressive stress regulates the number of charge transfer between (H)–(B)–(MoS2), weakening the adsorption energy of hydrogen on B@MoS2. Moreover, we constructed a SiN/B@MoS2 heterojunction, which introduces an 8.6% compressive stress for B@MoS2 and yields an ideal ΔGH. This work provides an effective means to achieve high intrinsic HER activity for MoS2.

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Cited: Crossref(5) WebOfScience(4)
Tuning band alignment and optical properties of 2D van der Waals heterostructure via ferroelectric polarization switching
Dimuthu Wijethunge, Lei Zhang, Cheng Tang, Aijun Du
Front. Phys. .  2020, 15 (6): 63504.
Abstract   PDF (1450KB)

Favourable band alignment and excellent visible light response are vital for photochemical water splitting. In this work, we have theoretically investigated how ferroelectric polarization and its reversibility in direction can be utilized to modulate the band alignment and optical absorption properties. For this objective, 2D van der Waals heterostructures (HTSs) are constructed by interfacing monolayer MoS2 with ferroelectric In2Se3. We find the switch of polarization direction has dramatically changed the band alignment, thus facilitating different type of reactions. In In2Se3/MoS2/In2Se3 heterostructures, one polarization direction supports hydrogen evolution reaction and another polarization direction can favour oxygen evolution reaction. These can be used to create tuneable photocatalyst materials where water reduction reactions can be selectively controlled by polarization switching. The modulation of band alignment is attributed to the shift of reaction potential caused by spontaneous polarization. Additionally, the formed type-II van der Waals HTSs also significantly improve charge separation and enhance the optical absorption in the visible and infrared regions. Our results pave a way in the design of van der Waals HTSs for water splitting using ferroelectric materials.

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Cited: Crossref(2) WebOfScience(1)
Tuning the electronic properties of hydrogen passivated C3N nanoribbons through van der Waals stacking
Jia Liu, Xian Liao, Jiayu Liang, Mingchao Wang, Qinghong Yuan
Front. Phys. .  2020, 15 (6): 63503.
Abstract   PDF (5632KB)

The two-dimensional (2D) C3N has emerged as a material with promising applications in high performance device owing to its intrinsic bandgap and tunable electronic properties. Although there are several reports about the bandgap tuning of C3N via stacking or forming nanoribbon, bandgap modulation of bilayer C3N nanoribbons (C3NNRs) with various edge structures is still far from well understood. Here, based on extensive first-principles calculations, we demonstrated the effective bandgap engineering of C3N by cutting it into hydrogen passivated C3NNRs and stacking them into bilayer heterostructures. It was found that armchair (AC) C3NNRs with three types of edge structures are all semiconductors, while only zigzag (ZZ) C3NNRs with edges composed of both C and N atoms (ZZCN/ CN) are semiconductors. The bandgaps of all semiconducting C3NNRs are larger than that of C3N nanosheet. More interestingly, AC-C3NNRs with CN/CN edges (AC-CN/CN) possess direct bandgap while ZZ-CN/CN have indirect bandgap. Compared with the monolayer C3NNR, the bandgaps of bilayer C3NNRs can be greatly modulated via different stacking orders and edge structures, varying from 0.43 eV for ZZ-CN/CN with AB′-stacking to 0.04 eV for AC-CN/CN with AA-stacking. Particularly, transition from direct to indirect bandgap was observed in the bilayer AC-CN/CN heterostructure with AA′-stacking, and the indirect-to-direct transition was found in the bilayer ZZ-CN/CN with ABstacking. This work provides insights into the effective bandgap engineering of C3N and offers a new opportunity for its applications in nano-electronics and optoelectronic devices.

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Mechanical properties of lateral transition metal dichalcogenide heterostructures
Sadegh Imani Yengejeh, William Wen, Yun Wang
Front. Phys. .  2021, 16 (1): 13502.
Abstract   PDF (1210KB)

Transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) monolayers attract great attention due to their specific structural, electronic and mechanical properties. The formation of their lateral heterostructures allows a new degree of flexibility in engineering electronic and optoelectronic dervices. However, the mechanical properties of the lateral heterostructures are rarely investigated. In this study, a comparative investigation on the mechanical characteristics of 1H, 1T′ and 1H/1T′ heterostructure phases of different TMD monolayers including molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) molybdenum diselenide (MoSe2), Tungsten disulfide (WS2), and Tungsten diselenide (WSe2) was conducted by means of density functional theory (DFT) calculations. Our results indicate that the impact of the lateral heterostructures has a relatively weak mechanical strength for all the TMD monolayers. The significant correlation between the mechanical properties of the TMD monolayers and their structural phases can be used to tune their stiffness of the materials. Our findings, therefore, suggest a novel strategy to manipulate the mechanical characteristics of TMDs by engineering their structural phases for their practical applications.

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Cited: Crossref(1)
Theoretical investigation of CoTa2O6/graphene heterojunctions for oxygen evolution reaction
Qinye Li, Siyao Qiu, Baohua Jia
Front. Phys. .  2021, 16 (1): 13503.
Abstract   PDF (1172KB)

Water electrolysis is to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using electricity as the driving force. To obtain low-cost hydrogen in a large scale, it is critical to develop electrocatalysts based on earth abundant elements with a high efficiency. This computational work started with Cobalt on CoTa2O6 surface as the active site, CoTa2O6/Graphene heterojunctions have been explored as potential oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts through density functional theory (DFT). We demonstrated that the electron transfer (δ) from CoTa2O6 to graphene substrate can be utilized to boost the reactivity of Co-site, leading to an OER overpotential as low as 0.30 V when N-doped graphene is employed. Our findings offer novel design of heterojunctions as high performance OER catalysts.

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Cited: Crossref(2) WebOfScience(2)
Interlayer coupling effect in van der Waals heterostructures of transition metal dichalcogenides
Yuan-Yuan Wang, Feng-Ping Li, Wei Wei, Bai-Biao Huang, Ying Dai
Front. Phys. .  2021, 16 (1): 13501.
Abstract   PDF (933KB)

Van der Waals (vdW) heterobilayers formed by two-dimensional (2D) transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) created a promising platform for various electronic and optical properties. ab initio band results indicate that the band offset of type-II band alignment in TMDCs vdW heterobilayer could be tuned by introducing Janus WSSe monolayer, instead of an external electric field. On the basis of symmetry analysis, the allowed interlayer hopping channels of TMDCs vdW heterobilayer were determined, and a four-level k·p model was developed to obtain the interlayer hopping. Results indicate that the interlayer coupling strength could be tuned by interlayer electric polarization featured by various band offsets. Moreover, the difference in the formation mechanism of interlayer valley excitons in different TMDCs vdW heterobilayers with various interlayer hopping strength was also clarified.

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Two-dimensional Janus van der Waals heterojunctions: A review of recent research progresses
Lin Ju, Mei Bie, Xiwei Zhang, Xiangming Chen, Liangzhi Kou
Front. Phys. .  2021, 16 (1): 13201.
Abstract   PDF (3274KB)

Two-dimensional Janus van der Waals (vdW) heterojunctions, referring to the junction containing at least one Janus material, are found to exhibit tuneable electronic structures, wide light adsorption spectra, controllable contact resistance, and sufficient redox potential due to the intrinsic polarization and unique interlayer coupling. These novel structures and properties are promising for the potential applications in electronics and energy conversion devices. To provide a comprehensive picture about the research progress and guide the following investigations, here we summarize their fundamental properties of different types of two-dimensional Janus vdW heterostructures including electronic structure, interface contact and optical properties, and discuss the potential applications in electronics and energy conversion devices. The further challenges and possible research directions of the novel heterojunctions are discussed at the end of this review.

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The unique carrier mobility of Janus MoSSe/GaN heterostructures
Wen-Jin Yin, Xiao-Long Zeng, Bo Wen, Qing-Xia Ge, Ying Xu, Gilberto Teobaldi, Li-Min Liu
Front. Phys. .  2021, 16 (3): 33501.
Abstract   PDF (2869KB)

Heterostructure is an effective approach in modulating the physical and chemical behavior of materials. Here, the first-principles calculations were carried out to explore the structural, electronic, and carrier mobility properties of Janus MoSSe/GaN heterostructures. This heterostructure exhibits a superior high carrier mobility of 281.28 cm2·V−1·s−1 for electron carrier and 3951.2 cm2·V−1·s−1 for hole carrier. Particularly, the magnitude of the carrier mobility can be further tuned by Janus structure and stacking modes of the heterostructure. It is revealed that the equivalent mass and elastic moduli strongly affect the carrier mobility of the heterostructure, while the deformation potential contributes to the different carrier mobility for electron and hole of the heterostructure. These results suggest that the Janus MoSSe/GaN heterostructures have many potential applications for the unique carrier mobility.

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Theoretical progress on direct Z-scheme photocatalysis of two-dimensional heterostructures
Zhaobo Zhou, Shijun Yuan, Jinlan Wang
Front. Phys. .  2021, 16 (4): 43203.
Abstract   PDF (1819KB)

Two-dimensional (2D) materials, due to its excellent mechanical, unique electrical and optical properties, have become hot materials in the field of photocatalysis. Especially, 2D heterostructures can well inhibit the recombination of photogenerated electrons and holes in photocatalysis because of its special energy band structures and carrier transport characteristics, which are conducive to enhancing photoenergy conversion capacity and improving oxidation and reduction ability, so as to purify pollutants and store energy. In this minireview, we summarize recent theoretical progress in direct Z-scheme photocatalysis of 2D heterostructures, focusing on physical mechanism and improving catalytic efficiency. Current challenges and prospects for 2D direct Z-scheme photocatalysts are discussed as well.

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