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Corrugation in the Weakly Interacting Hexagonal-BN/Cu(111) System: Structure Determination by Combining Noncontact Atomic Force Microscopy and X-ray Standing Waves

DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b04022 DOI Help

Authors: Martin Schwarz (Technical University of Munich) , Alexander Riss (Technical University of Munich) , Manuela Garnica (Technical University Munich) , Jacob Ducke (Technical University Munich) , Peter S. Deimel (Technical University Munich) , David A. Duncan (Diamond Light Source) , Pardeep Kumar Thakur (Diamond Light Source) , Tien-lin Lee (Diamond Light Source) , Ari Paavo Seitsonen (École Normale Supérieure) , Johannes V. Barth (Technical University of Munich) , Francesco Allegretti (Technical University of Munich) , Willi Auwärter (Technical University of Munich)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Journal Paper
Journal: Acs Nano

State: Published (Approved)
Published: September 2017
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 14624

Abstract: Atomically thin hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) layers on metallic supports represent a promising platform for the selective adsorption of atoms, clusters, and molecular nanostructures. Specifically, scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) studies revealed an electronic corrugation of h-BN/Cu(111), guiding the self-assembly of molecules and their energy level alignment. A detailed characterization of the h-BN/Cu(111) interface including the spacing between the h-BN sheet and its support—elusive to STM measurements—is crucial to rationalize the interfacial interactions within these systems. To this end, we employ complementary techniques including high-resolution noncontact atomic force microscopy, STM, low-energy electron diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, the X-ray standing wave method, and density functional theory. Our multimethod study yields a comprehensive, quantitative structure determination including the adsorption height and the corrugation of the sp2 bonded h-BN layer on Cu(111). Based on the atomic contrast in atomic force microscopy measurements, we derive a measurable–hitherto unrecognized–geometric corrugation of the h-BN monolayer. This experimental approach allows us to spatially resolve minute height variations in low-dimensional nanostructures, thus providing a benchmark for theoretical modeling. Regarding potential applications, e.g., as a template or catalytically active support, the recognition of h-BN on Cu(111) as a weakly bonded and moderately corrugated overlayer is highly relevant.

Journal Keywords: Keywords: adsorption height; atomic force microscopy; corrugation; Cu(111); hexagonal boron nitride; X-ray standing waves

Subject Areas: Materials, Physics

Instruments: I09-Surface and Interface Structural Analysis