Twisted graphene in graphite: Impact on surface potential andchemical stability

Tuan Hoang Tran, Raul D. Rodriguez, Marco Salerno, Aleksandar Matković, Christian Teichert, Evgeniya Sheremet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG),i.e., the 3D stack of sp2-hybridized carbon sheets, is anattractive material thanks to its high electrical conductivity, chemical inertness, thermal stability, atomic-scaleflatness, and ease of exfoliation. Despite an apparently ideal and uniform material, freshly cleavedHOPG shows domains in Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) with surface potential contrast over30 mV. We systematically investigated these domains using an integrated approach, including time-dependent KPFM and hyperspectral Raman imaging. The observed time-evolving domains are attrib-uted to locally different hydrocarbon adsorption from the environment, driven by structural defectslikely related to rotational mismatch,i.e., twisted layers. These defects affect the interlayer couplingbetween topmost graphene and the underlying layers. Our hypothesis was supported by Raman spec-troscopy results, showing domains with G peak shifts and 2D line shape compatible with bilayer gra-phene. We attribute the selective sensitivity of our Raman spectroscopy results to the top graphenelayers as resonances due to van Hove singularities. Our results show that the chemical and electricalproperties of HOPG are far more complex than what is generally believed due to the broken symmetry atthe top surface, giving rise to graphene bilayer-like behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-439
Number of pages9
Issue numberMay
Early online date5 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)


  • Contact potential difference
  • Graphene
  • Graphite
  • HOPG
  • Kelvin probe force microscopy
  • Moiré pattern
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Surface contamination
  • Surface potential
  • Twisted bi-layers

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