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  1. Mechanical failure and chemical degradation of device heterointerfaces can strongly influence the long-term stability of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) under thermal cycling and damp heat conditions. We report chirality-mediated interfaces based onR-/S-methylbenzyl-ammonium between the perovskite absorber and electron-transport layer to create an elastic yet strong heterointerface with increased mechanical reliability. This interface harnesses enantiomer-controlled entropy to enhance tolerance to thermal cycling–induced fatigue and material degradation, and a heterochiral arrangement of organic cations leads to closer packing of benzene rings, which enhances chemical stability and charge transfer. The encapsulated PSCs showed retentions of 92% of power-conversion efficiency under a thermal cycling test (−40°C to 85°C; 200 cycles over 1200 hours) and 92% under a damp heat test (85% relative humidity; 85°C; 600 hours).

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 23, 2025
  2. Atomically thin two-dimensional transition-metal dichalcogenides (2D-TMDs) have emerged as semiconductors for next-generation nanoelectronics. As 2D-TMD-based devices typically utilize metals as the contacts, it is crucial to understand the properties of the 2D-TMD/metal interface, including the characteristics of the Schottky barriers formed at the semiconductor-metal junction. Conventional methods for investigating the Schottky barrier height (SBH) at these interfaces predominantly rely on contact-based electrical measurements with complex gating structures. In this study, we introduce an all-optical approach for non-contact measurement of the SBH, utilizing high-quality WS2/Au heterostructures as a model system. Our approach employs a below-bandgap pump to excite hot carriers from the gold into WS2 with varying thicknesses. By monitoring the resultant carrier density changes within the WS2 layers with a broadband probe, we traced the dynamics and magnitude of charge transfer across the interface. A systematic sweep of the pump wavelength enables us to determine the SBH values and unveil an inverse relationship between the SBH and the thickness of the WS2 layers. First-principles calculations reveal the correlation between the probability of injection and the density of states near the conduction band minimum of WS2. The versatile optical methodology for probing TMD/metal interfaces can shed light on the intricate charge transfer characteristics within various 2D heterostructures, facilitating the development of more efficient and scalable nano-electronic and optoelectronic technologies. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 23, 2025
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 2, 2025
  4. Advancement toward dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical cells to produce solar fuels by solar-driven water splitting requires a photosensitizer that is firmly attached to the semiconducting photoelectrodes. Covalent binding enhances the efficiency of electron injection from the photoexcited dye into the metal oxide. Optimization of charge transfer, efficient electron injection, and minimal electron-hole recombination are mandatory for achieving high efficiencies. Here, a BODIPY-based dye exploiting an innovative surface-anchoring mode via boron is compared with a similar dye bound by a traditional carboxylic acid anchoring group. Through terahertz and transient absorption spectroscopic studies, along with GFN-xTB calculations, we find that, when compared to the traditional carboxylic acid anchoring group, electron injection of boron-bound BODIPY is faster into both TiO2 and SnO2. Although the surface coverage is low compared with carboxylic acids, the binding stability is improved over a wide range of pH. Subsequent photoelectrochemical studies using a sacrificial electron donor showed this combined dye and anchoring group maintained photocurrent with good stability over long-time irradiation. This recently discovered binding mode of BODIPY shows excellent electron injection and good stability over time, making it promising for future investigations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 15, 2025
  5. In recent years, optical pump-probe microscopy (PPM) has become a vital technique for spatiotemporally imaging electronic excitations and charge-carrier transport in metals and semiconductors. However, existing methods are limited by mechanical delay lines with a probe time window of only several nanoseconds (ns), or monochromatic pump and probe sources with restricted spectral coverage and temporal resolution, hindering their amenability in studying relatively slow processes. To bridge these gaps, we introduce a dual-hyperspectral PPM setup with a time window spanning from ns to milliseconds and single-ns resolution. Our method features a wide-field probe tunable from 370 nm to 1000 nm and a pump spanning from 330 nm to 16 µm. We apply this PPM technique to study various two-dimensional metal-halide perovskites (2D-MHPs) as representative semiconductors by imaging their transient responses near the exciton resonances under both above-bandgap, electronic pump excitation, and below-bandgap, vibrational pump excitation. The resulting spatially- and temporally-resolved images reveal insights into heat dissipation, film uniformity, distribution of impurity phases, and film-substrate interfaces. In addition, the single-ns temporal resolution enables the imaging of in-plane strain wave propagation in 2D-MHP single crystals. Our method, which offers extensive spectral tunability and significantly improved time resolution, opens new possibilities for the imaging of charge carriers, heat, and transient phase transformation processes, particularly in materials with spatially-varying composition, strain, crystalline structure, and interfaces. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 12, 2025
  6. Abstract

    In two-dimensional chiral metal-halide perovskites, chiral organic spacers endow structural and optical chirality to the metal-halide sublattice, enabling exquisite control of light, charge, and electron spin. The chiroptical properties of metal-halide perovskites have been measured by transmissive circular dichroism spectroscopy, which necessitates thin-film samples. Here, by developing a reflection-based approach, we characterize the intrinsic, circular polarization-dependent complex refractive index for a prototypical two-dimensional chiral lead-bromide perovskite and report large circular dichroism for single crystals. Comparison with ab initio theory reveals the large circular dichroism arises from the inorganic sublattice rather than the chiral ligand and is an excitonic phenomenon driven by electron-hole exchange interactions, which breaks the degeneracy of transitions between Rashba-Dresselhaus-split bands, resulting in a Cotton effect. Our study suggests that previous data for spin-coated films largely underestimate the optical chirality and provides quantitative insights into the intrinsic optical properties of chiral perovskites for chiroptical and spintronic applications.

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  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  8. Abstract

    The layer stacking order in 2D materials strongly affects functional properties and holds promise for next-generation electronic devices. In bulk, octahedral MoTe2possesses two stacking arrangements, the ferroelectric Weyl semimetal Tdphase and the higher-order topological insulator 1T′ phase. However, in thin flakes of MoTe2, it is unclear if the layer stacking follows the Td, 1T′, or an alternative stacking sequence. Here, we use atomic-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy to directly visualize the MoTe2layer stacking. In thin flakes, we observe highly disordered stacking, with nanoscale 1T′ and Tddomains, as well as alternative stacking arrangements not found in the bulk. We attribute these findings to intrinsic confinement effects on the MoTe2stacking-dependent free energy. Our results are important for the understanding of exotic physics displayed in MoTe2flakes. More broadly, this work suggestsc-axis confinement as a method to influence layer stacking in other 2D materials.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  9. Abstract

    The combined effects of compact TiO2(c‐TiO2) electron‐transport layer (ETL) are investigated without and with mesoscopic TiO2(m‐TiO2) on top, and without and with an iodine‐terminated silane self‐assembled monolayer (SAM), on the mechanical behavior, opto–electronic properties, photovoltaic (PV) performance, and operational‐stability of solar cells based on metal‐halide perovskites (MHPs). The interfacial toughness increases almost threefold in going from c‐TiO2without SAM to m‐TiO2with SAM. This is attributed to the synergistic effect of the m‐TiO2/MHP nanocomposite at the interface and the enhanced adhesion afforded by the iodine‐terminated silane SAM. The combination of m‐TiO2and SAM also offers a significant beneficial effect on the photocarriers extraction at the ETL/MHP interface, resulting in perovskite solar cells (PSCs) with power‐conversion efficiency (PCE) of over 24% and 20% for 0.1 and 1 cm2active areas, respectively. These PSCs also have exceptionally long operational‐stability lives: extrapolatedT80 (duration at 80% initial PCE retained) is ≈18 000 and 10 000 h for 0.1 and 1 cm2active areas, respectively.Postmortemcharacterization and analyses of the operational‐stability‐tested PSCs are performed to elucidate the possible mechanisms responsible for the long operational‐stability.

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