Electronic structure imperfections and chemical bonding at graphene interfaces
Schultz, Brian Joseph
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The manifestation of novel phenomena upon scaling to finite size has inspired a paradigm shift in materials science that takes advantage of the distinctive electrical and physical properties of nanomaterials. Remarkably, the simple honeycomb arrangement of carbon atoms in a single atomic layer has become renowned for exhibiting never-before-seen electronic and physical phenomena. This archetypal 2-dimensional nanomaterial is known as graphene, a single layer of graphite. Early reports in the 1950's eluded to graphene-like nanostructures that were evidenced from exfoliation of oxidized graphite followed by chemical reduction, absorbed carbon on transition metals, and thermal decomposition of SiC. Furthermore, the earliest tight binding approximation calculations in the 1950's held clues that a single-layer of graphite would behave drastically different than bulk graphite. Not until 2004, when Giem and Novoselov first synthesized graphene by mechanical exfoliation from highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite did the field of graphene-based research bloom within the scientific community. Since 2004, the availability and relatively straight forward synthesis of single-layer graphene (SLG) enabled the observation of remarkable phenomena including: massless Dirac fermions, extremely high mobilities of its charge carriers, room temperature half-integer quantum Hall effect, the Rashba effect, and the potential for ballistic conduction over macroscopic distances. These enticing electronic properties produce the drive to study graphene for use in truly nanoscale electrical interconnects, integrated circuits, transparent conducting electrodes, ultra-high frequency transistors, and spintronic devices, just to name a few. Yet, for almost all real world applications graphene will need to be interfaced with other materials, metals, dielectrics, organics, or any combination thereof that in turn are constituted from various inorganic and organic components. Interfacing graphene, a nanomaterial with lateral dimensions in the hundreds of microns if not larger, with a corresponding atomic vertical thickness poses significant difficulties. Graphene's unique structure is dominated by surface area or potentially hybridized interfaces; consequently, the true realization of this remarkable nanomaterial in device constructs relies on engineering graphene interfaces at the surface in order to controllably mold the electronic structure. Near-edge X-ray absorption fine-structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy and the transmission mode analogue scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) are particularly useful tools to study the unoccupied states of graphene and graphene interfaces. In addition, polarized NEXAFS and STXM studies provide information on surface orientation, bond sterics, and the extent of substrate alignment before and after interfacial hybridization. The work presented in this dissertation is fundamentally informed by NEXAFS and STXM measurements on graphene/metal, graphene/dielectric, and graphene/organic interfaces. We start with a general review of the electronic structure of freestanding graphene and graphene interfaces in Chapter 1. In Chapter 2, we investigate freestanding single-layer graphene via STXM and NEXAFS demonstrating that electronic structure heterogeneities from synthesis and processing are ubiquitous in 2-dimensional graphene. We show the mapping of discrete charge transfer regions as a result of doped impurities that decorate the surfaces of graphene and that transfer processing imparts local electronic corrugations or ripples. In corroboration with density functional theory, definitive assignments to the spectral features, global steric orientations of the localized domains, and quantitative charge transfer schemes are evidenced. In the following chapters, we deliberately (Chapter 3) incorporate substitutional nitrogen into reduced graphene oxide to induce C-N charge redistribution and improve global conductivity, (Chapter 4) fabricate graphene/metal interfaces and metal/graphene/metal sandwich structures evidencing classical anisotropic umpolung chemistry from carbon p z -orbrital charge pinning, and (Chapter 5) engineer graphene/dielectric interfaces showing electron depletion from carbon atoms at the HfO 2 /graphene interface. The fabrication of graphene interfaces remains a critical gap for successful commercialization of graphene-based devices, yet we demonstrate that interfacial hybridization, anisotropic charge redistribution, local chemical bonding, and discrete electronic hybridization regimes play a critical role in the electronic structure at graphene interfaces.