The photogating effect is a photocurrent generation mechanism that leads to marked responsivity in two-dimensional (2D) semiconductor-based devices. A key step to promote the photogating effect in a 2D semiconductor is to integrate it with a high density of charge traps. Here, we show that self-limiting surface oxides on atomically thin WSe2 can serve as effective electron traps to facilitate p-type photogating. By examining the gate-bias-induced threshold voltage shift of a p-type transistor based on single-layer WSe2 with surface oxide, the electron trap density and the trap rate of the oxide are determined to be >1012 cm-2 and >1010 cm-2 s-1, respectively. White-light illumination on an oxide-covered 4-layer WSe2 transistor leads to the generation of photocurrent, the magnitude of which increases with the hole mobility. During illumination, the photocurrent evolves on a timescale of seconds, and a portion of the current persists even after illumination. These observations indicate that the photogenerated electrons are trapped deeply in the surface oxide and effectively gate the underlying WSe2. Owing to the pronounced photogating effect, the responsivity of the oxide-covered WSe2 transistor is observed to exceed 3000 A/W at an incident optical power of 1.1 nW, suggesting the effectiveness of surface oxidation in facilitating the photogating effect in 2D semiconductors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas