Stacking-dependent band gap and quantum transport in trilayer graphene

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Graphene1,2,3 is an extraordinary two-dimensional (2D) system with chiral charge carriers and fascinating electronic, mechanical and thermal properties4,5. In multilayer graphene6,7, stacking order provides an important yet rarely explored degree of freedom for tuning its electronic properties8. For instance, Bernal-stacked trilayer graphene (B-TLG) is semi-metallic with a tunable band overlap, and rhombohedral-stacked trilayer graphene (r-TLG) is predicted to be semiconducting with a tunable band gap9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17. These multilayer graphenes are also expected to exhibit rich novel phenomena at low charge densities owing to enhanced electronic interactions and competing symmetries. Here we demonstrate the dramatically different transport properties in TLG with different stacking orders, and the unexpected spontaneous gap opening in charge neutral r-TLG. At the Dirac point, B-TLG remains metallic, whereas r-TLG becomes insulating with an intrinsic interaction-driven gap 6 meV. In magnetic fields, well-developed quantum Hall (QH) plateaux in r-TLG split into three branches at higher fields. Such splitting is a signature of the Lifshitz transition, a topological change in the Fermi surface, that is found only in r-TLG. Our results underscore the rich interaction-induced phenomena in trilayer graphene with different stacking orders, and its potential towards electronic applications.

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Figure 1: Characteristics of suspended B-TLG (ABA) and r-TLG (ABC) devices and their band structures.
Figure 2: Different Raman and transport characteristics of B- and r-TLG.
Figure 3: Transport data from B-TLG and r-TLG devices.
Figure 4: Magnetotransport data of a r-TLG device.


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This work was supported in part by ONR/DMEA H94003-10-2-1003, NSF CAREER DMR/0748910, ONR N00014-09-1-0724, and the FENA Focus Center. D.S. acknowledges the support by NHMFL UCGP #5068. The trenches are fabricated at UCSB. Part of this work was performed at NHMFL which is supported by NSF/DMR-0654118, the State of Florida, and DOE. S.B.C. acknowledges the support by ONR/N00014-10-1-0511. M.K. and E.M. acknowledge the support by JST-EPSRC EP/H025804/1.

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C.N.L. and W.B. conceived the experiments; W.B. and D.T. isolated and identified graphene sheets; W.B., L.J., Y.L., J.V., G.L, B.S. and D.S. performed transport measurements; W.B., L.J., M.A. and S.B.C. performed Raman measurements; C.N.L., M.B., W.B., L.J. and J.V. interpreted and analysed the data; M.K. and E.M. interpreted data and performed theoretical calculations; C.N.L., M.B., W.B. and E.M. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to C. N. Lau.

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