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

Martin Schwarz, Alexander Riss, Manuela Garnica, Jacob Ducke, Peter S. Deimel, David A. Duncan, Pardeep Kumar Thakur, Tien Lin Lee, Ari Paavo Seitsonen, Johannes V. Barth, Francesco Allegretti, Willi Auwärter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9151-9161
Number of pages11
JournalACS Nano
Volume11
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 26 Sep 2017

Keywords

  • Cu(111)
  • X-ray standing waves
  • adsorption height
  • atomic force microscopy
  • corrugation
  • hexagonal boron nitride

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