Microscopy and Spectroscopy of Graphene: Atomic Scale Structure and Interaction with Foreign Atom Species
[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2013.
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Since its discovery, the one atom thick material graphene has been at the centre of growing interest in two-dimensional materials. Due to its exceptional properties, graphene is a rich topic to explore by physicists, chemists, engineers and materials scientists. In addition to its use in the fundamental research, graphene is also a promising candidate for future electronics, photonics and energy storage devices.The project presented in this thesis was carried out to explore the structure of suspended graphene in particular in order to probe the metal-graphene interaction via Transmission Electron Microscopy, as most graphene applications require interfacing with metals. As the work was based on free standing graphene, graphene layers obtained by mechanical cleavage or growth on a substrate were transferred onto TEM-grids. Therefore, fabrication, suspended sample preparation and identification of graphene layers were first discussed for a better understanding of how to obtain high quality graphene, as this was essential for the rest of the project.Structural, topographic and chemical analysis of pristine suspended graphene layers were investigated in detail via Transmission Electron Microscopy and Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy. The latter technique was also employed for graphene on a substrate along with establishing annealing conditions for residue free graphene.Metal deposited suspended graphene layers were then investigated in the electron microscopes. Different metal behaviours were observed on the graphene surfaces for the same amount of metal evaporation. Generally, metals interact only weakly with graphene as they are not observed on clean (residue free) parts and are mainly clustered. On the other hand, graphene etching has been observed in the presence of metals. The etching was initiated with graphene vacancy formation as a result of the interaction between metal and carbon atoms on clean graphene. Once a vacancy was created, a hole quickly formed and eventually the graphene layers were destroyed. However, those holes created by metals were healed spontaneously either by non-hexagonal or perfect hexagonal rings. The possible etching and healing mechanisms of the suspended graphene were also discussed.