Letter | Published:

Manipulation of domain-wall solitons in bi- and trilayer graphene

Abstract

Topological dislocations and stacking faults greatly affect the performance of functional crystalline materials1,2,3. Layer-stacking domain walls (DWs) in graphene alter its electronic properties and give rise to fascinating new physics such as quantum valley Hall edge states4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Extensive efforts have been dedicated to the engineering of dislocations to obtain materials with advanced properties. However, the manipulation of individual dislocations to precisely control the local structure and local properties of bulk material remains an outstanding challenge. Here we report the manipulation of individual layer-stacking DWs in bi- and trilayer graphene by means of a local mechanical force exerted by an atomic force microscope tip. We demonstrate experimentally the capability to move, erase and split individual DWs as well as annihilate or create closed-loop DWs. We further show that the DW motion is highly anisotropic, offering a simple approach to create solitons with designed atomic structures. Most artificially created DW structures are found to be stable at room temperature.

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Acknowledgements

We acknowledge helpful discussions with M. Asta, D. Chrzan, B. Yacobson, M. Poschmann and R. Zucker. We thank A. Zettl, Y. Zhang, T. Wang and Y. Sheng for their help on sample preparation. The near-field infrared nanoscopy measurements and plasmon analysis was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division of the US Department of Energy under contract no. DE-AC02-05-CH11231 (Sub-wavelength Metamaterial Program) and National Key Research and Development Program of China (grant number 2016YFA0302001). The bilayer graphene DW sample fabrication and characterization is supported by the Office of Naval Research (award N00014-15-1-2651). L.J. acknowledges support from International Postdoctoral Exchange Fellowship Program 2016 (No.20160080). Z.S. acknowledges support from the Program for Professor of Special Appointment (Eastern Scholar) at Shanghai Institutions of Higher Learning.

Author information

F.W. and Z.S. conceived the project. F.W., Y.-R.S. and H.-J.G. supervised the project. G.Z. helped to design the study with Z.S. and F.W. L.J., Z.S. and C.J. performed the near-field infrared measurements and DW manipulation work. S.W. and L.J. performed the SVM measurement. L.J. and S.Z. made the FET devices. M.I.B.U. carried out the SEM measurements. L.J., S.W., Z.S. and F.W. analysed the data. All authors discussed the results and contributed to writing the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Correspondence to Zhiwen Shi or Feng Wang.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–10, Supplementary References.

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Further reading

Fig. 1: Nano-imaging and manipulating DWs in bilayer and trilayer graphene.
Fig. 2: Versatile manipulation of DW solitons in bilayer and trilayer graphene.
Fig. 3: Angle-dependent investigation of DW motions in trilayer graphene.
Fig. 4: Schematics of the anisotropic DW motions in trilayer graphene.