Imaging moiré excited states with photocurrent tunnelling microscopy

Hongyuan Li, Ziyu Xiang, Mit H. Naik, Woochang Kim, Zhenglu Li, Renee Sailus, Rounak Banerjee, Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe, Sefaattin Tongay, Alex Zettl, Felipe H. da Jornada, Steven G. Louie, Michael F. Crommie, Feng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Moiré superlattices provide a highly tuneable and versatile platform to explore novel quantum phases and exotic excited states ranging from correlated insulators to moiré excitons. Scanning tunnelling microscopy has played a key role in probing microscopic behaviours of the moiré correlated ground states at the atomic scale. However, imaging of quantum excited states in moiré heterostructures remains an outstanding challenge. Here we develop a photocurrent tunnelling microscopy technique that combines laser excitation and scanning tunnelling spectroscopy to directly visualize the electron and hole distribution within the photoexcited moiré exciton in twisted bilayer WS2. The tunnelling photocurrent alternates between positive and negative polarities at different locations within a single moiré unit cell. This alternating photocurrent originates from the in-plane charge transfer moiré exciton in twisted bilayer WS2, predicted by our GW-Bethe–Salpeter equation calculations, that emerges from the competition between the electron–hole Coulomb interaction and the moiré potential landscape. Our technique enables the exploration of photoexcited non-equilibrium moiré phenomena at the atomic scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNature materials
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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