Dynamic Optical Tuning of Interlayer Interactions in the Transition Metal Dichalcogenides

Ehren M. Mannebach, Clara Nyby, Friederike Ernst, Yao Zhou, John Tolsma, Yao Li, Meng Ju Sher, I. Cheng Tung, Hua Zhou, Qi Zhang, Kyle L. Seyler, Genevieve Clark, Yu Lin, Diling Zhu, James M. Glownia, Michael E. Kozina, Sanghoon Song, Silke Nelson, Apurva Mehta, Yifei YuAnupum Pant, Ozgur Burak Aslan, Archana Raja, Yinsheng Guo, Anthony Dichiara, Wendy Mao, Linyou Cao, Sefaattin Tongay, Jifeng Sun, David J. Singh, Tony F. Heinz, Xiaodong Xu, Allan H. Macdonald, Evan Reed, Haidan Wen, Aaron M. Lindenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Modulation of weak interlayer interactions between quasi-two-dimensional atomic planes in the transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) provides avenues for tuning their functional properties. Here we show that above-gap optical excitation in the TMDCs leads to an unexpected large-amplitude, ultrafast compressive force between the two-dimensional layers, as probed by in situ measurements of the atomic layer spacing at femtosecond time resolution. We show that this compressive response arises from a dynamic modulation of the interlayer van der Waals interaction and that this represents the dominant light-induced stress at low excitation densities. A simple analytic model predicts the magnitude and carrier density dependence of the measured strains. This work establishes a new method for dynamic, nonequilibrium tuning of correlation-driven dispersive interactions and of the optomechanical functionality of TMDC quasi-two-dimensional materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7761-7766
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 13 2017


  • 2D materials
  • Casimir effect
  • femtosecond X-ray scattering
  • interlayer van der Waals interactions
  • ultrafast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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