Highly efficient hot electron harvesting from graphene before electron-hole thermalization

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Science Advances  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 11, eaax9958
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax9958


Although the unique hot carrier characteristics in graphene suggest a new paradigm for hot carrier–based energy harvesting, the reported efficiencies with conventional photothermoelectric and photothermionic emission pathways are quite low because of inevitable hot carrier thermalization and cooling loss. Here, we proposed and demonstrated the possibility of efficiently extracting hot electrons from graphene after carrier intraband scattering but before electron-hole interband thermalization, a new regime that has never been reached before. Using various layered semiconductors as model electron-accepting components, we generally observe ultrafast injection of energetic hot electrons from graphene over a very broad photon energy range (visible to mid-infrared). The injection quantum yield reaches as high as ~50%, depending on excitation energy but remarkably, not on fluence, in notable contrast with conventional pathways with nonlinear behavior. Hot electron harvesting in this regime prevails over energy and carrier loss and closely resembles the concept of hot carrier solar cell.

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