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Charlène Tonnoir

Scanning tunneling spectroscopy study of epitaxial graphene on superconducting rhenium

Published on 20 December 2013


Thesis presented December 20, 2013

Abstract:
Obtaining a transparent interface between graphene and a superconductor has proved to be very challenging and yet essential to induce superconducting correlations in graphene via the so-called proximity effect. This thesis presents a scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS) study at very low temperature (50 mK) of a novel system achieving such a good electronic contact by the growth of epitaxial graphene on superconducting rhenium. The fabrication and selection of high-crystallographic quality rhenium thin films are briefly explained, followed by the CVD growth process of graphene on various metal substrates and in particular rhenium. STM topographic images reveal a moiré pattern due to the lattice mismatch between graphene and rhenium. We identify this system to a graphene monolayer in strong interaction with the underlying substrate, as corroborated by DFT calculations. STS analyses in the hundreds-meV energy range show a spatial modulation of the density of states (DOS) at the moiré scale, indicating different coupling strengths between ‘hills' and ‘valleys' regions. The bulk superconducting properties are probed by transport measurements, from which we extract the transition temperature Tc~2K and a superconducting coherence length ξ=18nm. The superconducting gap is extracted from the DOS at 50 mK (Δ=330µeV) and found homogeneous at the moiré scale. The superconducting mixed state is studied under magnetic field and an Abrikosov vortex-lattice is uncovered. Finally, a study on various surface morphologies exhibits an anomalous lateral superconducting proximity effect in contradiction with the existing models.

Keywords:
Epitaxial graphene, Scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy, Superconducting proximity effect, Abrikosov vortex-lattice

On-line thesis.