Graphene formation mechanisms on 4H-SiC(0001)

Michael Bolen, Purdue University
Sara E. Harrison, Purdue University - Main Campus
Laura B. Biedermann, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University
Michael A. Capano, Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University

Date of this Version



DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.80.115433

This document has been peer-reviewed.



Graphene is created through thermal decomposition of the Si face of 4H-SiC in high-vacuum. Growth temperature and time are varied independently to gain a better understanding of how surface features and morphology affect graphene formation. Growth mechanisms of graphene are studied by ex situ atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM). On the route toward a continuous graphene film, various growth features, such as macroscale step bunching, terrace pits, and fingers, are found and analyzed. Topographic and phase AFM analysis demonstrates how surface morphology changes with experimental conditions. Step-bunched terraces and terrace pits show a strong preference for eroding along the {11 (2) over bar0} planes. Data from AFM are corroborated with STM to determine the surface structure of the growth features. It is shown that elevated finger structures are SiC while the depressed interdigitated areas between the fingers are comprised of at least a monolayer of graphene. Graphene formation at the bottom of terrace pits shows a dependence on pit depth. These features lend support for a stoichiometric view of graphene formation based on the number of decomposing SiC bilayers.


Nanoscience and Nanotechnology