Understanding and Controlling Cu-Catalyzed Graphene Nucleation: The Role of Impurities, Roughness, and Oxygen Scavenging
The mechanism by which Cu catalyst pretreatments control graphene nucleation density in scalable chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is systematically explored. The intrinsic and extrinsic carbon contamination in the Cu foil is identified by time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry as a major factor influencing graphene nucleation and growth. By selectively oxidizing the backside of the Cu foil prior to graphene growth, a drastic reduction of the graphene nucleation density by 6 orders of magnitude can be obtained. This approach decouples surface roughness effects and at the same time allows us to trace the scavenging effect of oxygen on deleterious carbon impurities as it permeates through the Cu bulk. Parallels to well-known processes in Cu metallurgy are discussed. We also put into context the relative effectiveness and underlying mechanisms of the most widely used Cu pretreatments, including wet etching and electropolishing, allowing a rationalization of current literature and determination of the relevant parameter space for graphene growth. Taking into account the wider CVD growth parameter space, guidelines are discussed for high-throughput manufacturing of "electronic-quality" monolayer graphene films with domain size exceeding 1 mm, suitable for emerging industrial applications, such as electronics and photonics.
European Research Council (279342)