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Shashank Mathur

Growth and atomic structure of a novel crystalline two-dimensional material based on silicon and oxygen

Published on 16 September 2016

Thesis presented September 16, 2016

Silicon oxide is a widely abundant compound existing in various forms from amorphous to crystalline, bulk to porous and thin films. It is a common dielectric in microelectronics and widely used host for nanoparticles in heterogeneous catalysis. Its amorphous nature and the ill-defined complex three dimensional structure is a hurdle to the understanding of its properties down to the smallest scales. Resorting to epitaxially grown ultra-thin phase (also called a two-dimensional material) can help overcome these issues and provide clear-cut information regarding the structure and properties of the material.
In this thesis, studies were aimed at growing this promising novel phase of silicon oxide. Using surface science tools, including scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and reflection high energy electron diffraction (RHEED) supported by density functional theory calculations, the atomic structure was resolved to high resolution. The monolayer was found to have a hexagonal arrangement of the [SiO4] tetrahedra chemisorbed on the surface of Ru(0001) into specific sites. This lattice of monolayer silicon oxide was also found to coexist with an oxygen reconstruction of the bare Ru(0001) inside each silicon oxide cell.
The growth of this monolayer was monitored in real-time by in operando RHEED studies. These experiments provided with insights the domain size evolution and the build up/release of strain field during the growth that. Based on the experimental observations, a growth mechanism leading to the formation of monolayer silicon oxide could be proposed in terms of geometrical translations of the atomic species on the surface of Ru(0001) support. This mechanism results in unavoidable formation of one-dimensional line-defects that were precisely resolved by the STM.

Surface science, Two-Dimensional materials, Ultra-Thin silicon oxide

On-line thesis.