A hybrid MBE-based growth method for large-area synthesis of stacked hexagonal boron nitride/graphene heterostructures
Van der Waals heterostructures combining hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) and graphene offer many potential advantages, but remain difficult to produce as continuous films over large areas. In particular, the growth of h-BN on graphene has proven to be challenging due to the inertness of the graphene surface. Here we exploit a scalable molecular beam epitaxy based method to allow both the h-BN and graphene to form in a stacked heterostructure in the favorable growth environment provided by a Ni(111) substrate. This involves first saturating a Ni film on MgO(111) with C, growing h-BN on the exposed metal surface, and precipitating the C back to the h-BN/Ni interface to form graphene. The resulting laterally continuous heterostructure is composed of a top layer of few-layer thick h-BN on an intermediate few-layer thick graphene, lying on top of Ni/MgO(111). Examinations by synchrotron-based grazing incidence diffraction, X-ray photoemission spectroscopy, and UV-Raman spectroscopy reveal that while the h-BN is relaxed, the lattice constant of graphene is significantly reduced, likely due to nitrogen doping. These results illustrate a different pathway for the production of h-BN/graphene heterostructures, and open a new perspective for the large-area preparation of heterosystems combining graphene and other 2D or 3D materials.