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Growth from Below: Graphene Bilayers on Ir(111)

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posted on 22.03.2011, 00:00 by Shu Nie, Andrew L. Walter, Norman C. Bartelt, Elena Starodub, Aaron Bostwick, Eli Rotenberg, Kevin F. McCarty
We elucidate how graphene bilayers form on Ir(111). Low-energy electron diffraction (LEED) reveals that the two graphene layers are not always rotationally aligned. Monitoring this misalignment during growth shows that second-layer islands nucleate between the existing layer and the substrate. This mechanism occurs both when C segregates from the Ir and when elemental C is deposited from above. Low-energy electron microscopy (LEEM) and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) show that second-layer nucleation occurs preferentially under the first-layer rotational variants that are more weakly bound to the substrate. New-layer nucleation tends to occur inhomogeneously at substrate defects. Thus new-layer nucleation should be rapid on substrates that weakly bind graphene, making growth unstable toward mound formation initiated at substrate defects. In contrast, stronger binding permits layer-by-layer growth, as for Ru(0001). ARPES shows that bilayer graphene has two slightly p-doped π-bands. The work function of bilayer graphene is dominated by the orientation of the bottom layer.