Perfect absorption by an atomically thin crystal

Jason Horng, Eric W. Martin, Yu Hsun Chou, Emmanuel Courtade, Tsu Chi Chang, Chu Yuan Hsu, Michael Henr Wentzel, Hanna G. Ruth, Tien Chang Lu, Steven T. Cundiff, Feng Wang, Hui Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Optical absorption is one of the most fundamental processes in light-matter interactions. The ability to achieve and control high absorption is crucial for a broad range of modern photonic technologies. In nanomaterials of length scales much smaller than a wavelength, optical absorption is typically a weak perturbation. To achieve high absorption, exquisite techniques and structures have been developed, such as coherent interference of multiple laser beams and plasmonic metasurfaces. Here, we show that a robust critical-coupling condition exists to allow perfect absorption of light by a subnanometer-thick two-dimensional semiconductor, when the radiative-decay rate of the exciton resonance balances with its loss rate. We measure an absorption up to 99.6% in a monomolecular MoSe2 crystal placed in front of a flat mirror. We furthermore demonstrate control of the perfect absorption by tuning the exciton-phonon, exciton-exciton, and exciton-photon interactions with temperature, pulsed laser excitation, and a movable mirror, respectively. Our work suggests a mechanism to achieve and control critical coupling in two-dimensional excitonic systems, enabling photonic applications including ultrafast low-power light modulators and sensitive optical sensing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number024009
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Aug

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Perfect absorption by an atomically thin crystal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this