Because of its high compatibility with conventional microfabrication processing technology, epitaxial graphene (EG) grown on SiC shows exceptional promise for graphene-based electronics. However, to date, a detailed understanding of the transformation from three-layer SiC to monolayer graphene is still lacking. Here, we demonstrate the direct atomic-scale observation of EG growth on a SiC (11̅00) surface at 1,000 °C by in situ transmission electron microscopy in combination with ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) simulations. Our detailed analysis of the growth dynamics of monolayer graphene reveals that three SiC (11̅00) layers decompose successively to form one graphene layer. Sublimation of the first layer causes the formation of carbon clusters containing short chains and hexagonal rings, which can be considered as the nuclei for graphene growth. Decomposition of the second layer results in the appearance of new chains connecting to the as-formed clusters and the formation of a network with large pores. Finally, the carbon atoms released from the third layer lead to the disappearance of the chains and large pores in the network, resulting in a whole graphene layer. Our study presents a clear picture of the epitaxial growth of the monolayer graphene from SiC and provides valuable information forfuture developments in SiC-derived EG technology. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
- epitaxial growth
- in situ
- transmission electron microscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering