Two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides as atomically thin semiconductors: opportunities and challenges
The discovery of graphene has ignited intensive interest in two-dimensional layered materials (2DLMs). These 2DLMs represent a new class of nearly ideal 2D material systems for exploring fundamental chemistry and physics at the limit of single-atom thickness, and have the potential to open up totally new technological opportunities beyond the reach of existing materials. In general, there are a wide range of 2DLMs in which the atomic layers are weakly bonded together by van der Waals interactions and can be isolated into single or few-layer nanosheets. The van der Waals interactions between neighboring atomic layers could allow much more flexible integration of distinct materials to nearly arbitrarily combine and control different properties at the atomic scale. The transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) (e.g., MoS2, WSe2) represent a large family of layered materials, many of which exhibit tunable band gaps that can undergo a transition from an indirect band gap in bulk crystals to a direct band gap in monolayer nanosheets. These 2D-TMDs have thus emerged as an exciting class of atomically thin semiconductors for a new generation of electronic and optoelectronic devices. Recent studies have shown exciting potential of these atomically thin semiconductors, including the demonstration of atomically thin transistors, a new design of vertical transistors, as well as new types of optoelectronic devices such as tunable photovoltaic devices and light emitting devices. In parallel, there have also been considerable efforts in developing diverse synthetic approaches for the rational growth of various forms of 2D materials with precisely controlled chemical composition, physical dimension, and heterostructure interface. Here we review the recent efforts, progress, opportunities and challenges in exploring the layered TMDs as a new class of atomically thin semiconductors.