The Role of Surface Oxygen in the Growth of Large Single-Crystal Graphene on Copper

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Science  08 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6159, pp. 720-723
DOI: 10.1126/science.1243879

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Oxygen Control of Graphene Growth

The growth of graphene on copper surfaces through the decomposition of hydrocarbons such as methane can result in a wide variety of crystal domain sizes and morphologies. Hao et al. (p. 720, published online 24 October; see the cover) found that the presence of surface oxygen could limit the number of nucleation sites and allowed centimeter-scale domains to grow through a diffusion-limited mechanism. The electrical conductivity of the graphene was comparable to that of exfoliated graphene.


The growth of high-quality single crystals of graphene by chemical vapor deposition on copper (Cu) has not always achieved control over domain size and morphology, and the results vary from lab to lab under presumably similar growth conditions. We discovered that oxygen (O) on the Cu surface substantially decreased the graphene nucleation density by passivating Cu surface active sites. Control of surface O enabled repeatable growth of centimeter-scale single-crystal graphene domains. Oxygen also accelerated graphene domain growth and shifted the growth kinetics from edge-attachment–limited to diffusion-limited. Correspondingly, the compact graphene domain shapes became dendritic. The electrical quality of the graphene films was equivalent to that of mechanically exfoliated graphene, in spite of being grown in the presence of O.

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