Mechanical cleaning of graphene using in situ electron microscopy

Avoiding and removing surface contamination is a crucial task when handling specimens in any scientific experiment. This is especially true for two-dimensional materials such as graphene, which are extraordinarily affected by contamination due to their large surface area. While many efforts have been made to reduce and remove contamination from such surfaces, the issue is far from resolved. Here we report on an in situ mechanical cleaning method that enables the site-specific removal of contamination from both sides of two dimensional membranes down to atomic-scale cleanliness. Further, mechanisms of re-contamination are discussed, finding surface-diffusion to be the major factor for contamination in electron microscopy. Finally the targeted, electron-beam assisted synthesis of a nanocrystalline graphene layer by supplying a precursor molecule to cleaned areas is demonstrated.
Bibliographic reference
Schweizer, Peter Dolle, Christian Dasler, Daniela Abellán Sáez, Gonzalo Hauke, Frank Hirsch, Andreas Spiecker, Erdmann 2020 Mechanical cleaning of graphene using in situ electron microscopy Nature Communications 11 1 1743