Heterointerface effects in the electrointercalation of van der Waals heterostructures


Bediako DK, Rezaee M, Yoo H, Larson DT, Zhao SYF, Taniguchi T, Watanabe K, Brower-Thomas TL, Kaxiras E, Kim P. Heterointerface effects in the electrointercalation of van der Waals heterostructures. NATURE. 2018;558 (7710) :425+.

Date Published:

JUN 21


Molecular-scale manipulation of electronic and ionic charge accumulation in materials is the backbone of electrochemical energy storagel(1-4). Layered van der Waals (vdW) crystals are a diverse family of materials into which mobile ions can electrochemically intercalate into the interlamellar gaps of the host atomic lattice(5,6). The structural diversity of such materials enables the interfacial properties of composites to be optimized to improve ion intercalation for energy storage and electronic devices(7-12). However, the ability of heterolayers to modify intercalation reactions, and their role at the atomic level, are yet to be elucidated. Here we demonstrate the electrointercalation of lithium at the level of individual atomic interfaces of dissimilar vdW layers. Electrochemical devices based on vdW heterostructures(13) of stacked hexagonal boron nitride, graphene and molybdenum dichalcogenide (MoX2;X=S, Se) layers are constructed. We use transmission electron microscopy, in situ magnetoresistance and optical spectroscopy techniques, as well as low-temperature quantum magneto-oscillation measurements and ab initio calculations, to resolve the intermediate stages of lithium intercalation at heterointerfaces. The formation of vdW heterointerfaces between graphene and MoX2 results in a more than tenfold greater accumulation of charge in MoX2 when compared to MoX2/MoX2 homointerfaces, while enforcing a more negative intercalation potential than that of bulk MoX2 by at least 0.5 V. Beyond energy storage, our combined experimental and computational methodology for manipulating and characterizing the electrochemical behaviour of layered systems opens new pathways to control the charge density in two-dimensional electronic and optoelectronic devices.