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Sci Rep. 2015 Nov 13;5:16642. doi: 10.1038/srep16642.

Vibrational Properties of h-BN and h-BN-Graphene Heterostructures Probed by Inelastic Electron Tunneling Spectroscopy.

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Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, Daejeon 305-340, Korea.
University of Science and Technology, Daejeon 305-350, Korea.
Department of Physics, ChungNam National University, Daejeon 305-764, Korea.
Department of Physics, Yonsei University, Seoul 120-749, Korea.
Advanced Materials Laboratory, National Institute for Materials Science, 1-1 Namiki, Tsukuba 305-0044, Japan.


Inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy is a powerful technique for investigating lattice dynamics of nanoscale systems including graphene and small molecules, but establishing a stable tunnel junction is considered as a major hurdle in expanding the scope of tunneling experiments. Hexagonal boron nitride is a pivotal component in two-dimensional Van der Waals heterostructures as a high-quality insulating material due to its large energy gap and chemical-mechanical stability. Here we present planar graphene/h-BN-heterostructure tunneling devices utilizing thin h-BN as a tunneling insulator. With much improved h-BN-tunneling-junction stability, we are able to probe all possible phonon modes of h-BN and graphite/graphene at Γ and K high symmetry points by inelastic tunneling spectroscopy. Additionally, we observe that low-frequency out-of-plane vibrations of h-BN and graphene lattices are significantly modified at heterostructure interfaces. Equipped with an external back gate, we can also detect high-order coupling phenomena between phonons and plasmons, demonstrating that h-BN-based tunneling device is a wonderful playground for investigating electron-phonon couplings in low-dimensional systems.

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