2D heterostructures are more than a sum of the parent 2D materials, but are also a product of the interlayer coupling, which can induce new properties. In this paper we present a method to tune the interlayer coupling in Bi2Se3/MoS2 2D heterostructures by regulating the oxygen presence in the atmosphere, while applying laser or thermal energy. Our data suggests the interlayer coupling is tuned through the diffusive intercalation and de-intercalation of oxygen molecules. When one layer of Bi2Se3 is grown on monolayer MoS2, an influential interlayer coupling is formed that quenches the signature photoluminescence (PL) peaks. However, thermally annealing in the presence of oxygen disrupts the interlayer coupling, facilitating the emergence of the MoS2 PL peak. DFT calculations predict intercalated oxygen increases the interlayer separation ~17%, disrupting the interlayer coupling and inducing the layers to behave more electronically independent. The interlayer coupling can then be restored by thermally annealing in N2 or Ar, where the peaks will re-quench. Hence, this is an interesting oxygen-induced switching between “non-radiative” and “radiative” exciton recombination. This switching can also be accomplished locally, controllably, and reversibly using a low-power focused laser, while changing the environment from pure N2 to air. This allows for the interlayer coupling to be precisely manipulated with submicron spatial resolution, facilitating site-programmable 2D light-emitting pixels whose emission intensity could be precisely varied by a factor exceeding 200x. Our results show that these atomically-thin 2D heterostructures may be excellent candidates for oxygen sensing.

Published in: "arXiv Material Science".