Metal-graphene Interaction Studied via Atomic Resolution Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy

Nano Lett. 2011 Mar 9;11(3):1087-92. doi: 10.1021/nl103980h. Epub 2011 Jan 27.


Distributions and atomic sites of transition metals and gold on suspended graphene were investigated via high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy, especially using atomic resolution high angle dark field imaging. All metals, albeit as singular atoms or atom aggregates, reside in the omni-present hydrocarbon surface contamination; they do not form continuous films, but clusters or nanocrystals. No interaction was found between Au atoms and clean single-layer graphene surfaces, i.e., no Au atoms are retained on such surfaces. Au and also Fe atoms do, however, bond to clean few-layer graphene surfaces, where they assume T and B sites, respectively. Cr atoms were found to interact more strongly with clean monolayer graphene, they are possibly incorporated at graphene lattice imperfections and have been observed to catalyze dissociation of C-C bonds. This behavior might explain the observed high frequency of Cr-cluster nucleation, and the usefulness as wetting layer, for depositing electrical contacts on graphene.