Structural characterization of epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide

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Hass, Joanna R.
Conrad, Edward H.
First, Phillip N.
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Graphene, a single sheet of carbon atoms sp2-bonded in a honeycomb lattice, is a possible all-carbon successor to silicon electronics. Ballistic conduction at room temperature and a linear dispersion relation that causes carriers to behave as massless Dirac fermions are features that make graphene promising for high-speed, low-power devices. The critical advantage of epitaxial graphene (EG) grown on SiC is its compatibility with standard lithographic procedures. Surface X-ray diffraction (SXRD) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) results are presented on the domain structure, interface composition and stacking character of graphene grown on both polar faces of semi-insulating 4H-SiC. The data reveal intriguing differences between graphene grown on these two faces. Substrate roughening is more pronounced and graphene domain sizes are significantly smaller on the SiC (0001) Si-face. Specular X-ray reflectivity measurements show that both faces have a carbon rich, extended interface that is tightly bound to the first graphene layer, leading to a buffering effect that shields the first graphene layer from the bulk SiC, as predicted by ab initio calculations. In-plane X-ray crystal truncation rod analysis indicates that rotated graphene layers are interleaved in C-face graphene films and corresponding superstructures are observed in STM topographs. These rotational stacking faults in multilayer C-face graphene preserve the linear dispersion found in single layer graphene, making EG electronics possible even for a multilayer material.
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