Published: Feb. 27, 2015

MX2The circular polarization (CP) that the photoluminescence inherits from the excitation source in nmonolayers of transition-metal dichalcogenides (MX2)n has been previously explained as a special feature of odd values of n, where the inversion symmetry is absent. This “valley polarization” effect results from the fact that, in the absence of inversion symmetry, charge carriers in different band valleys could be selectively excited by different circular polarized light. Although several experiments observed CP in centrosymmetric MX2 systems, e.g., for bilayer MX2, they were dismissed as being due to some extrinsic sample irregularities. Here we show that also for n=even, where inversion symmetry is present and valley polarization physics is strictly absent, such intrinsic selectivity in CP is to be expected on the basis of fundamental spin-orbit physics. First-principles calculations of CP predict significant polarization for n=2 bilayers: from 69% in MoS2 to 93% in WS2. This realization could broaden the range of materials to be considered as CP sources.

Q. Liu, X. Zhang, A. Zunger,"Intrinsic Circular Polarization in Centrosymmetric Stacks of Transition- Metal Dichalcogenide Compounds," Physical Review Letters 114, 087402 (2015).(PDF)