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Tuesday, 22 January, 2013

High-Temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscopy Study of the Ordering Transition of an Amorphous Carbon Layer into Graphene on Ruthenium(0001)

S. Günther, S. Dänhardt, M. Ehrensperger, P. Zeller, S. Schmitt, and J. Wintterlin -
ACS Nano, Vol. 7 (1), pp 154–164 (2013)

The ordering transition of an amorphous carbon layer into graphene was investigated by high-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy. A disordered C layer was prepared on a Ru(0001) surface by chemical vapor deposition of ethylene molecules at ~660 K. The carbon layer grows in the form of dendritic islands that have almost the same density as graphene. Upon annealing of the fully covered surface, residual hydrogen desorbs and a coherent but still disordered carbon layer forms, with almost the same carbon coverage as in graphene. The ordering of this layer into graphene at 920 to 950 K was monitored as a function of time. A unique mechanism was observed that involves small topographic holes in the carbon layer. The holes are mobile, and on the trajectories of the holes the disordered carbon layer is transformed into graphene. The transport of C atoms across the holes or along the hole edges provides a low-energy pathway for the ordering transition. This mechanism is prohibited in a dense graphene layer, which offers an explanation for the difficulty of removing defects from graphene synthesized by chemical methods.


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