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Nat Nanotechnol. 2008 Nov;3(11):676-81. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2008.280. Epub 2008 Sep 28.

Free-standing graphene at atomic resolution.

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  • 1SuperSTEM, STFC Daresbury Laboratory, Warrington WA4 4AD, UK.


Research interest in graphene, a two-dimensional crystal consisting of a single atomic plane of carbon atoms, has been driven by its extraordinary properties, including charge carriers that mimic ultra-relativistic elementary particles. Moreover, graphene exhibits ballistic electron transport on the submicrometre scale, even at room temperature, which has allowed the demonstration of graphene-based field-effect transistors and the observation of a room-temperature quantum Hall effect. Here we confirm the presence of free-standing, single-layer graphene with directly interpretable atomic-resolution imaging combined with the spatially resolved study of both the pi --> pi* transition and the pi + sigma plasmon. We also present atomic-scale observations of the morphology of free-standing graphene and explore the role of microstructural peculiarities that affect the stability of the sheets. We also follow the evolution and interaction of point defects and suggest a mechanism by which they form ring defects.

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