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Nano Lett. 2013 Apr 10;13(4):1386-92. doi: 10.1021/nl3039508. Epub 2013 Mar 15.

Substrate level control of the local doping in graphene.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, New York, New York 10027, United States.


Graphene exfoliated onto muscovite mica is studied using ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy (UHV-STM) techniques. Mica provides an interesting dielectric substrate interface to measure the properties of graphene due to the ultraflat nature of a cleaved mica surface and the surface electric dipoles it possesses. Flat regions of the mica surface show some surface modulation of the graphene topography (24 pm) due to topographic modulation of the mica surface and full conformation of the graphene to that surface. In addition to these ultraflat regions, plateaus of varying size having been found. A comparison of topographic images and STS measurements show that these plateaus are of two types: one with characteristics of water monolayer formation between the graphene and mica, and the other arising from potassium ions trapped at the interfacial region. Immediately above the water induced plateaus, graphene is insulated from charge doping, while p-type doping is observed in areas adjacent to these water nucleation points. However, above and in the neighborhood of interfacial potassium ions, only n-type doping is observed. Graphene regions above the potassium ions are more strongly n-doped than regions adjacent to these alkali atom plateaus. Furthermore, a direct correlation of these Fermi level shifts with topographic features is seen without the random charge carrier density modulation observed in other dielectric substrates. This suggests a possible route to nanoscopic control of the local electron and hole doping in graphene via specific substrate architecture.

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