Tip induced mechanical deformation of epitaxial graphene grown on reconstructed 6H–SiC(0001) surface during scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopy studies
The structural and mechanical properties of an epitaxial graphene (EG) monolayer thermally grown on top of a 6H–SiC(0001) surface were studied by combined dynamic scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and frequency modulation atomic force microscopy (FM-AFM). Experimental STM, dynamic STM and AFM images of EG on 6H–SiC(0001) show a lattice with a 1.9 nm period corresponding to the (6 × 6) quasi-cell of the SiC surface. The corrugation amplitude of this (6 × 6) quasi-cell, measured from AFM topographies, increases with the setpoint value of the frequency shift Δf (15–20 Hz, repulsive interaction). Excitation variations map obtained simultaneously with the AFM topography shows that larger dissipation values are measured in between the topographical bumps of the (6 × 6) quasi-cell. These results demonstrate that the AFM tip deforms the graphene monolayer. During recording in dynamic STM mode, a frequency shift (Δf) map is obtained in which Δf values range from 41 to 47 Hz (repulsive interaction). As a result, we deduced that the STM tip, also, provokes local mechanical distortions of the graphene monolayer. The origin of these tip-induced distortions is discussed in terms of electronic and mechanical properties of EG on 6H–SiC(0001).