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The potentially crucial role of quasi-particle interferences for the growth of silicene on graphite

Abstract

A comprehensive picture of the initial stages of silicene growth on graphite is drawn. Evidence is shown that quasiparticle interferences play a crucial role in the formation of the observed silicene configurations. We propose, on one hand, that the charge modulations caused by those quantum interferences serve as templates and guide the incoming Si atoms to self-assemble to the unique \(\left( {\sqrt 3 \times \sqrt 3 } \right)\)R30° honeycomb atomic arrangement. On the other hand, their limited extension limits the growth to about 150 Si atoms under our present deposition conditions. The here proposed electrostatic interaction finally explains the unexpected stability of the observed silicene islands over time and with temperature. Despite the robust guiding nature of those quantum interferences during the early growth phase, we demonstrate that the window of experimental conditions for silicene growth is quite narrow, making it an extremely challenging experimental task. Finally, it is shown that the experimentally observed three-dimensional silicon clusters might very well be the simple result of the end of the silicene growth resulting from the limited extent of the quasi-particle interferences.

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Acknowledgements

We are most thankful to Dr. Andrew Mayne who shared his in-depth understanding of quantum interferences with us in several exciting and encouraging discussions. H. V., F. J., and C. L. gratefully acknowledge the HPC centers of IDRIS (Grant A004-090642) and CERMM for computational resources. F. J. acknowledges the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development for the scholarship that was awarded to her during her PhD studies. We would like to express our most sincere thanks to Prof. Chih-Piao Chuu for having kindly provided us with the structure files of his most stable silicene configurations. M. D. C., M. S. and P. C. acknowledge the European Community for the HORIZON 2020 MSC-RISE Project DiSeTCom (GA 823728). Many thanks are also due to Dr. James Creel for the careful reading of the present manuscript. We finally would like to acknowledge the fruitful discussions we had with Prof. Sanjay Mathur at the University of Köln.

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The manuscript results from an intensive collaboration between experimentalists and theoreticians; the theory has been proposed and all simulations have been performed by F. J., C. L., and H. V. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Holger Vach.

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Jardali, F., Lechner, C., De Crescenzi, M. et al. The potentially crucial role of quasi-particle interferences for the growth of silicene on graphite. Nano Res. 13, 2378–2383 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-020-2858-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12274-020-2858-x

Keywords

  • silicene growth
  • highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG)
  • ab initio calculations
  • scanning tunneling microscopy (STM)
  • quasi-particle interferences
  • 2D self-assembly