Structural and Electronic Effects at the Interface between Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Monolayers (MoS2, WSe2, and Their Lateral Heterojunctions) and Liquid Water

Z Cao and M Harb and SM Kozlov and L Cavallo, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES, 23, 11926 (2022).

DOI: 10.3390/ijms231911926

Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) can be used as optical energy conversion materials to catalyze the water splitting reaction. A good catalytical performance requires: (i) well-matched semiconductor bandgaps and water redox potential for fluent energy transfer; and (ii) optimal orientation of the water molecules at the interface for kinetically fast chemical reactions. Interactions at the solid-liquid interface can have an important impact on these two factors; most theoretical studies have employed semiconductor-in-vacuum models. In this work, we explored the interface formed by liquid water and different types of TMDCs monolayers (MoS2, WSe2, and their lateral heterojunctions), using a combined molecular dynamics (MD) and density functional theory (DFT) approach. The strong interactions between water and these semiconductors confined the adsorbed water layer presenting structural patterns, with the water molecules well connected to the bulk water through the hydrogen bonding network. Structural fluctuations in the metal chalcogenide bonds during the MD simulations resulted in a 0.2 eV reduction of the band gap of the TMDCs. The results suggest that when designing new TMDC semiconductors, both the surface hydrophobicity and the variation of the bandgaps originating from the water-semiconductor interface, need to be considered.

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