Alexander Högele


Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

Faculty of Physics

Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1

80539 Munich

Tel. +49 89 2180 1457


Research Webpage


Research focus: quantum nano-systems, quantum dots, quantum optics

We study quantum phenomena in optically active low-dimensional condensed matter systems. Conceptually similar to optical spectroscopy of atoms or ions, we use light-matter interaction as an interface between photon and quantum degrees of freedom in solid-state nanoscale systems. The main research lines include experimental quantum optics with quasi zero-dimensional emitters and one-dimensional carbon nanotubes, bottom-up assembly of photofunctional nanosystems by DNA-origami, and novel truly two-dimensional atomic layer semiconductors.

Quantum emitters such as semiconductor quantum dots, nitrogen-vacancy centers in nanodiamond or single-walled carbon nanotubes represent versatile model systems for solid-state quantum optics. Discrete spectra with non-classical photon emission statistics or high degree of spin polarization render individual quasi zero-dimensional systems ideal candidates for the implementation of experimental quantum science by all-optical means.

The interdisciplinary project explores the potential of DNA-assembly for the construction of complex photofunctional nanosystems. It merges recent achievements in biophysics and solid-state nanosciences for DNA-guided fabrication of functional units based on radiant dyes, quantum dots, nanodiamonds and metal nanoparticles. The goal of the project is to establish a tool-box for bottom-up nanometer-precise assembly of photonic systems. Our collaboration partners in the project are the groups of T. Liedl (LMU), A. O. Govorov (Ohio University, Athens, USA), and E. Lifshitz (Technion, Haifa, Israel).

Atomic-layer transition metal dichalcogenides such as MoS2 or WSe2 have emerged recently as novel truly two-dimensional material systems with remarkable optoelectronic properties. Single layer materials combine reduced screening and direct band gap optical transitions. While strong Coulomb interactions enhance phenomena of exciton binding and quantum confinement, strong spin-orbit coupling mediates robust valley coherence that can be mapped onto the photon polarization degrees of freedom. Our collaboration partner in the project is H. Yamaguchi, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, USA.


Spectral asymmetry of phonon sideband luminescence in monolayer and bilayer WSe2

  • V. Funk, K. Wagner, E. Wietek, J.D. Ziegler, J. Förste, J. Lindlau, M. Förg, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, A. Chernikov, A. Högele

Physical Review Research 3, L042019 (2021).

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We report an experimental study of temperature-dependent spectral line shapes of phonon sideband emission stemming from dark excitons in monolayer and bilayer WSe2. Using photoluminescence spectroscopy in the range from 4 to 100 K, we observe a pronounced asymmetry in the phonon-assisted luminescence from momentum-indirect exciton reservoirs. We demonstrate that the corresponding spectral profiles are distinct from those of bright excitons with direct radiative decay pathways. The line-shape asymmetry reflects thermal distribution of exciton states with finite center-of-mass momenta, characteristic for phonon sideband emission. The extracted temperature of the exciton reservoirs is found to generally follow that of the crystal lattice, with deviations reflecting overheated populations. The latter are most pronounced in the bilayer case and at lowest temperatures. Our results add to the understanding of phonon-assisted recombination of momentum-dark excitons and, more generally, establish means to access the thermal distribution of finite-momentum excitons in atomically thin semiconductors with indirect band gaps.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevResearch.3.L042019

Open-Cavity in Closed-Cycle Cryostat as a Quantum Optics Platform

S. Vadia, J. Scherzer, H. Thierschmann, C. Schäfermeier, C. Dal Savio, T. Taniguchi, K. Watanabe, D. Hunger, K. Karraï, A. Högele

Prx Quantum 2, 040318 (2021).

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The introduction of an optical resonator can enable efficient and precise interaction between a photon and a solid-state emitter. It facilitates the study of strong light-matter interaction, polaritonic physics and presents a powerful interface for quantum communication and computing. A pivotal aspect in the progress of light-matter interaction with solid-state systems is the challenge of combining the requirements of cryogenic temperature and high mechanical stability against vibrations while maintaining sufficient degrees of freedom for in situ tunability. Here, we present a fiber-based open Fabry-Perot cavity in a closed-cycle cryostat exhibiting ultrahigh mechanical stability while providing wide-range tunability in all three spatial directions. We characterize the setup and demonstrate the operation with the root-mean-square cavity-length fluctuation of less than 90 pm at temperature of 6.5 K and integration bandwidth of 100 kHz. Finally, we benchmark the cavity performance by demonstrating the strong-coupling formation of exciton polaritons in monolayer WSe2 with a cooperativity of 1.6. This set of results manifests the open cavity in a closed-cycle cryostat as a versatile and powerful platform for low-temperature cavity QED experiments.

DOI: 10.1103/PRXQuantum.2.040318

Exciton g-factors in monolayer and bilayer WSe2 from experiment and theory

J. Foerste, N.V. Tepliakov, S.Y. Kruchinin, J. Lindlau, V. Funk, M. Foerg, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, A.S. Baimuratov, A. Hoegele

Nature Communications 11 (1), 4539 (2021).

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The optical properties of monolayer and bilayer transition metal dichalcogenide semiconductors are governed by excitons in different spin and valley configurations, providing versatile aspects for van der Waals heterostructures and devices. Here, we present experimental and theoretical studies of exciton energy splittings in external magnetic field in neutral and charged WSe2 monolayer and bilayer crystals embedded in a field effect device for active doping control. We develop theoretical methods to calculate the exciton g-factors from first principles for all possible spin-valley configurations of excitons in monolayer and bilayer WSe2 including valley-indirect excitons. Our theoretical and experimental findings shed light on some of the characteristic photoluminescence peaks observed for monolayer and bilayer WSe2. In more general terms, the theoretical aspects of our work provide additional means for the characterization of single and few-layer transition metal dichalcogenides, as well as their heterostructures, in the presence of external magnetic fields.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18019-1

Synthetic control over the binding configuration of luminescent sp3-defects in single-walled carbon nanotubes

S. Settele, F. Berger, S. Lindenthal, S. Zhao, A. Ali El Yumin, N. Zorn, A. Asyuda, M. Zharnikov, A. Högele, J. Zaumseil

Nature Communications 12, 2119 (2021).

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The controlled functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes with luminescent sp3-defects has created the potential to employ them as quantum-light sources in the near-infrared. For that, it is crucial to control their spectral diversity. The emission wavelength is determined by the binding configuration of the defects rather than the molecular structure of the attached groups. However, current functionalization methods produce a variety of binding configurations and thus emission wavelengths. We introduce a simple reaction protocol for the creation of only one type of luminescent defect in polymer-sorted (6,5) nanotubes, which is more red-shifted and exhibits longer photoluminescence lifetimes than the commonly obtained binding configurations. We demonstrate single-photon emission at room temperature and expand this functionalization to other polymer-wrapped nanotubes with emission further in the near-infrared. As the selectivity of the reaction with various aniline derivatives depends on the presence of an organic base we propose nucleophilic addition as the reaction mechanism.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22307-9

Moire excitons in MoSe2-WSe2 heterobilayers and heterotrilayers

M. Foerg, A.S. Baimuratov, S.Y. Kruchinin, I.A. Vovk, J. Scherzer, J. Foerste, V. Funk, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, A. Hoegele

Nature Communications 12 (1), 1656 (2021).

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Layered two-dimensional materials exhibit rich transport and optical phenomena in twisted or lattice-incommensurate heterostructures with spatial variations of interlayer hybridization arising from moire interference effects. Here, we report experimental and theoretical studies of excitons in twisted heterobilayers and heterotrilayers of transition metal dichalcogenides. Using MoSe2-WSe2 stacks as representative realizations of twisted van der Waals bilayer and trilayer heterostructures, we observe contrasting optical signatures and interpret them in the theoretical framework of interlayer moire excitons in different spin and valley configurations. We conclude that the photoluminescence of MoSe2-WSe2 heterobilayer is consistent with joint contributions from radiatively decaying valley-direct interlayer excitons and phonon-assisted emission from momentum-indirect reservoirs that reside in spatially distinct regions of moire supercells, whereas the heterotrilayer emission is entirely due to momentum-dark interlayer excitons of hybrid-layer valleys. Our results highlight the profound role of interlayer hybridization for transition metal dichalcogenide heterostacks and other realizations of multi-layered semiconductor van der Waals heterostructures. Here, the authors show that the photoluminescence of MoSe2/WSe2 heterobilayers is dominated by valley-direct excitons, whereas, in heterotrilayers, interlayer hybridization turns momentum-indirect interlayer excitons into energetically lowest states with phonon-assisted emission.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21822-z

Interaction of Luminescent Defects in Carbon Nanotubes with Covalently Attached Stable Organic Radicals

F.J. Berger, J.A. de Sousa, S. Zhao, N.F. Zorn, A.A. El Yumin, A.Q. García, S. Settele, A. Högele , N. Crivillers, J. Zaumseil

ACS Nano 15, 5147–5157 (2021).

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The functionalization of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with luminescent sp3 defects has greatly improved their performance in applications such as quantum light sources and bioimaging. Here, we report the covalent functionalization of purified semiconducting SWCNTs with stable organic radicals (perchlorotriphenylmethyl, PTM) carrying a net spin. This model system allows us to use the near-infrared photoluminescence arising from the defect-localized exciton as a highly sensitive probe for the short-range interaction between the PTM radical and the SWCNT. Our results point toward an increased triplet exciton population due to radical-enhanced intersystem crossing, which could provide access to the elusive triplet manifold in SWCNTs. Furthermore, this simple synthetic route to spin-labeled defects could enable magnetic resonance studies complementary to in vivo fluorescence imaging with functionalized SWCNTs and facilitate the scalable fabrication of spintronic devices with magnetically switchable charge transport.

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c10341

Valley-selective energy transfer between quantum dots in atomically thin semiconductors

A.S. Baimuratov, A. Hoegele

Scientific Reports 10 (1), 16971 (2020).

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In monolayers of transition metal dichalcogenides the nonlocal nature of the effective dielectric screening leads to large binding energies of excitons. Additional lateral confinement gives rise to exciton localization in quantum dots. By assuming parabolic confinement for both the electron and the hole, we derive model wave functions for the relative and the center-of-mass motions of electronhole pairs, and investigate theoretically resonant energy transfer among excitons localized in two neighboring quantum dots. We quantify the probability of energy transfer for a direct- gap transition by assuming that the interaction between two quantum dots is described by a Coulomb potential, which allows us to include all relevant multipole terms of the interaction. We demonstrate the structural control of the valley-selective energy transfer between quantum dots.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-73688-8

Probing Trions at Chemically Tailored Trapping Defects

H. Kwon, M. Kim, M. Nutz, N.F. Hartmann, V. Perrin, B. Meany, M.S. Hofmann, C.W. Clark, H. Htoon, S.K. Doorn, A. Högele, Y.H. Wang

ACS Cent. Sci. 5, 1786−1794 (2019).

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Trions, charged excitons that are reminiscent of hydrogen and positronium ions, have been intensively studied for energy harvesting, light-emitting diodes, lasing, and quantum computing applications because of their inherent connection with electron spin and dark excitons. However, these quasi-particles are typically present as a minority species at room temperature making it difficult for quantitative experimental measurements. Here, we show that by chemically engineering the well depth of sp3 quantum defects through a series of alkyl functional groups covalently attached to semiconducting carbon nanotube hosts, trions can be efficiently generated and localized at the trapping chemical defects. The exciton-electron binding energy of the trapped trion approaches 119 meV, which more than doubles that of “free” trions in the same host material (54 meV) and other nanoscale systems (2–45 meV). Magnetoluminescence spectroscopy suggests the absence of dark states in the energetic vicinity of trapped trions. Unexpectedly, the trapped trions are approximately 7.3-fold brighter than the brightest previously reported and 16 times as bright as native nanotube excitons, with a photoluminescence lifetime that is more than 100 times larger than that of free trions. These intriguing observations are understood by an efficient conversion of dark excitons to bright trions at the defect sites. This work makes trions synthetically accessible and uncovers the rich photophysics of these tricarrier quasi-particles, which may find broad implications in bioimaging, chemical sensing, energy harvesting, and light emitting in the short-wave infrared.

DOI: 10.1021/acscentsci.9b00707

Photon Correlation Spectroscopy of Luminescent Quantum Defects in Carbon Nanotubes

M. Nutz, J. Zhang, M. Kim, H. Kwon, X. Wu, Y. Wang, A. Högele.

Nano Letters 10, 7078–7084 (2019).

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Defect-decorated single-wall carbon nanotubes have shown rapid growing potential for imaging, sensing, and the development of room-temperature single-photon sources. The key to the highly nonclassical emission statistics is the discrete energy spectrum of defect-localized excitons. However, variations in defect configurations give rise to distinct spectral bands that may compromise single-photon efficiency and purity in practical devices, and experimentally it has been challenging to study the exciton population distribution among the various defect-specific states. Here, we performed photon correlation spectroscopy on hexyl-decorated single-wall carbon nanotubes to unravel the dynamics and competition between neutral and charged exciton populations. With autocorrelation measurements at the single-tube level, we prove the nonclassical photon emission statistics of defect-specific exciton and trion photoluminescence and identify their mutual exclusiveness in photoemissive events with cross-correlation spectroscopy. Moreover, our study reveals the presence of a dark state with population-shelving time scales between 10 and 100 ns. These new insights will guide further development of chemically tailored carbon nanotube states for quantum photonics applications.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b02553

Cavity-control of interlayer excitons in van der Waals heterostructures

M. Forg, L. Colombier, R.K. Patel, J. Lindlau, A.D. Mohite, H. Yamaguchi, M.M. Glazov, D. Hunger, A. Hogele

Nature Communications 10, 3697 (2019).

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Monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides integrated in optical microcavities host exciton-polaritons as a hallmark of the strong light-matter coupling regime. Analogous concepts for hybrid light-matter systems employing spatially indirect excitons with a permanent electric dipole moment in heterobilayer crystals promise realizations of exciton-polariton gases and condensates with inherent dipolar interactions. Here, we implement cavity-control of interlayer excitons in vertical MoSe2-WSe2 heterostructures. Our experiments demonstrate the Purcell effect for heterobilayer emission in cavity-modified photonic environments, and quantify the light-matter coupling strength of interlayer excitons. The results will facilitate further developments of dipolar exciton-polariton gases and condensates in hybrid cavity - van der Waals heterostructure systems.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-11620-z

Accidental Contamination of Substrates and Polymer Films by Organic Quantum Emitters

A. Neumann, J. Lindlau, S. Thomas, T. Basche, A. Hoegele

Nano Letters 19 (5), 3207-3213 (2019).

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We report the observation of ubiquitous contamination of dielectric substrates and poly(methyl methacrylate) matrices by organic molecules with optical transitions in the visible spectral range. Contamination sites of individual solvent-related fluorophores in thin films of poly(methyl methacrylate) constitute fluorescence hotspots with quantum emission statistics and quantum yields approaching 30% at cryogenic temperatures. Our findings not only resolve prevalent puzzles in the assignment of spectral features to various nanoemitters on bare dielectric substrates or in polymer matrices but also identify the means for the simple and cost-efficient realization of single-photon sources in the visible spectral range.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b00712

Tuning the Frohlich exciton-phonon scattering in monolayer MoS2

B. Miller, J. Lindlau, M. Bommert, A. Neumann, H. Yamaguchi, A. Holleitner, A. Hoegele, U. Wurstbauer

Nature Communications 10, 807 (2019).

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Charge carriers in semiconducting transition metal dichalcogenides possess a valley degree of freedom that allows for optoelectronic applications based on the momentum of excitons. At elevated temperatures, scattering by phonons limits valley polarization, making a detailed knowledge about strength and nature of the interaction of excitons with phonons essential. In this work, we directly access exciton-phonon coupling in charge tunable single layer MoS2 devices by polarization resolved Raman spectroscopy. We observe a strong defect mediated coupling between the long-range oscillating electric field induced by the longitudinal optical phonon in the dipolar medium and the exciton. This so-called Frohlich exciton phonon interaction is suppressed by doping. The suppression correlates with a distinct increase of the degree of valley polarization up to 20% even at elevated temperatures of 220 K. Our result demonstrates a promising strategy to increase the degree of valley polarization towards room temperature valleytronic applications.

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08764-3

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