Charge transport in proximitized graphene within van der Waals heterostructures

Since their discovery, graphene and other 2D materials have become a subject of intense research in condensed matter physics. Especially the vast possibilities of combining those materials into heterostructures are promising for the discovery of novel physical phenomena. The heterostructures accessible through state-of-the-art techniques have suitably clean interfaces between the layers. Graphene has gained a lot of attention due to its remarkable mechanical stability and extremely high electron mobility. However, the zero bandgap of graphene is a major bottleneck for implementing this 2D material into most electronic applications. The ability to tune the properties of graphene by proximity effects has shifted the focus of graphene research towards the combination of graphene with other van der Waals materials. The main objective of the present thesis was to explore for two different types of graphene-based van der Waals heterostructure whether fingerprints of electronic proximity effects can be traced in their low temperature magnetotransport properties. The first part of the thesis deals with heterostructures of graphene and Bi2Te2Se (BTS). The strong spin-orbit coupling of BTS makes it a three-dimensional topological insulator with topological surface states which are protected by time-reversal symmetry. At the same time, BTS is promising to exert a pronounced spin-orbit proximity effect on graphene, and thereby to open a band gap and/or introduce a spin texture in the latter. The graphene/BTS heterostructures were fabricated by the direct growth of BTS on graphene to ensure a clean interface between both materials and correspondingly a good electronic coupling between them. Analysis of the weak localization effect observed in the magnetoconductivity revealed the presence of enhanced SOC in the proximitized graphene. The second part of the thesis focuses on heterostructures wherein graphene is combined with a-RuCl3 which has recently gained a lot of attention as a potential quantum spin liquid system. Previous studies on graphene/a-RuCl3 heterostructures found an unusual temperature evolution of the quantum oscillation amplitude, whose origin remained unclear. The magnetotransport data collected in this thesis point toward two possible origins for this behavior, namely spin fluctuations associated with the magnetic transition into an antiferromagnetic phase at the Néel temperature of approximately 7 K, and the hybridization-induced formation of heavy (flat) bands, both of which are likely to depend on the a-RuCl3 layer thickness. In addition, heterostructures comprising an a-RuCl3 monolayer were found to display a unusual gate dependence of the quantum oscillations, further corroborating the importance of the a-RuCl3 thickness.

Kern, Klaus
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2020-10-09, last modified 2020-10-26

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