Single Cr atom catalytic growth of graphene
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Single atoms are the ultimate minimum size limit for catalysts. Graphene, as an exciting, ultimately thin (one atom thick) material can be imaged in a transmission electron microscope with relatively few imaging artefacts. Here, we directly observe the behavior of single Cr atoms in graphene mono- and di-vacancies and, more importantly, at graphene edges. Similar studies at graphene edges with other elemental atoms, with the exception of Fe, show catalytic etching of graphene. Fe atoms have been shown to both etch and grow graphene. In contrast, Cr atoms are only observed to induce graphene growth. Complementary theoretical calculations illuminate the differences between Fe and Cr, and confirm single Cr atoms as superior catalysts for sp2 carbon growth.
Keywordsin situ transmission electron microscope (TEM) electron driven catalysis Cr single atom graphene synthesis
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The following are gratefully acknowledged. The National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 51672181), the National Science Center for the financial support within the frame of the Sonata Program (No. 2014/13/D/ST5/02853) and the Opus program (No. 2015/19/B/ST5/03399). H. Q. T. thanks Soochow University for support. P. O. Å. P. wishes to acknowledge the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation for support of the electron microscopy laboratory in Linköping.