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Tuesday, 31 January, 2012

Time-resolved ultrafast photocurrents and terahertz generation in freely suspended graphene

L. Prechtel, L. Song, D. Schuh, P. Ajayan, W. Wegscheider, and A. W. Holleitner -
Nature Communications 3, doi:10.1038/ncomms1656 (2012)

Graphene, a two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms, is a promising building block for a wide range of optoelectronic devices owing to its extraordinary electrical and optical properties, including the ability to absorb ~2% of incident light over a broad wavelength range. While the RC-limited bandwidth of graphene-based photodetectors can be estimated to be as large as 640 GHz, conventional electronic measurement techniques lack for analysing photocurrents at such frequencies. Here we report on time-resolved picosecond photocurrents in freely suspended graphene contacted by metal electrodes. At the graphene–metal interface, we demonstrate that built-in electric fields give rise to a photocurrent with a full-width-half-maximum of ~4 ps and that a photothermoelectric effect generates a current with a decay time of ~130 ps. Furthermore, we show that, in optically pumped graphene, electromagnetic radiation up to 1 THz is generated. Our results may prove essential to build graphene-based ultrafast photodetectors, photovoltaic cells and terahertz sources.


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