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Fare side of SiC wafers

In this study we provide an atomic description for a particular surface reconstruction that helps advance graphene science, and we also demonstrate the existence of a new kind of reconstruction mixing order and disorder at the surface of a semiconductor compound, highlighting the need for much more complex reconstruction for these type of surfaces.

Published on 26 May 2020
In this work published in Applied Physics Letters, we present the exploration of the C-face surface of SiC. The underlying model of the 3x3 reconstruction occurring at its surface remained unknown since its report in 1997. Based on an intensive DFT-based exploration, we find that this reconstruction comes from an ordered all-silicon over-layer adopting a honeycomb-kagome lattice. We further characterize this model by means of STM simulation including an explicit tip. This allows us to refine the model, showing that a disorder substitution is at play below the over-layer. The combination of the two reconstruction levels makes this surface reconstruction unique among other semiconductors, explaining why it took decades to decipher its atomic structure. Thus, besides the importance of SiC for graphene growth or for high power electronics, we think that this particular reconstruction is of great interest for the applied physics community. Indeed, understanding the physics of surface reconstruction is central for many field starting from growth science but also for tuning new devices targeting to use of interfacial physics like 2D electron gas or surface superconductivity.

This work was further highlighted in Materials Today.

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