Strong metal adatom-substrate interaction of Gd and Fe with graphene
Graphene is a unique 2D system of confined electrons with an unusual electronic structure of two inverted Dirac cones touching at a single point, with high electron mobility and promising microelectronics applications. The clean system has been studied extensively, but metal adsorption studies in controlled experiments have been limited; such experiments are important to grow uniform metallic films, metal contacts, carrier doping, etc. Two non-free-electron-like metals (rare earth Gd and transition metal Fe) were grown epitaxially on graphene as a function of temperature T and coverage θ. By measuring the nucleated island density and its variation with growth conditions, information about the metal-graphene interaction (terrace diffusion, detachment energy) is extracted. The nucleated island densities at room temperature (RT) are stable and do not coarsen, at least up to 400 °C, which shows an unusually strong metal-graphene bond; most likely it is a result of C atom rebonding from the pure graphene sp(2) C-C configuration to one of lower energy.