A striking feature of bilayer graphene is the induction of a significant band gap in the electronic states by the application of a perpendicular electric field1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Thicker graphene layers are also highly attractive materials. The ability to produce a band gap in these systems is of great fundamental and practical interest. Both experimental8 and theoretical9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 investigations of graphene trilayers with the typical ABA layer stacking have, however, revealed the lack of any appreciable induced gap. Here we contrast this behaviour with that exhibited by graphene trilayers with ABC crystallographic stacking. The symmetry of this structure is similar to that of AB-stacked graphene bilayers and, as shown by infrared conductivity measurements, permits a large band gap to be formed by an applied electric field. Our results demonstrate the critical and hitherto neglected role of the crystallographic stacking sequence on the induction of a band gap in few-layer graphene.
At a glance
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