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Contrasting Behavior of Carbon Nucleation in the Initial Stages of Graphene Epitaxial Growth on Stepped Metal Surfaces

Abstract

Using first-principles calculations within density functional theory, we study the energetics and kinetics of carbon nucleation in the early stages of epitaxial graphene growth on three representative stepped metal surfaces: Ir(111), Ru(0001), and Cu(111). We find that on the flat surfaces of Ir(111) and Ru(0001), two carbon atoms repel each other, while they prefer to form a dimer on Cu(111). Moreover, the step edges on Ir and Ru surfaces cannot serve as effective trapping centers for single carbon adatoms, but can readily facilitate the formation of carbon dimers. These contrasting behaviors are attributed to the delicate competition between C-C bonding and C-metal bonding, and a simple generic principle is proposed to predict the nucleation sites of C adatoms on many other metal substrates with the C-metal bond strengths as the minimal inputs.Comment: 4 figures, submitted versio

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    Last time updated on 02/01/2020