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npj 2D Materials and Applications

  • Carbon-Based Materials

Selective Nitrogen Doping of Graphene Due to Preferential Healing of Plasma-Generated Defects Near Grain Boundaries

Authors G. Robert Bigras, X. Glad, P. Vinchon, R. Martel, and L. Stafford


Hyperspectral Raman IMAging (RIMA) is used to study spatially inhomogeneous polycrystalline monolayer graphene films grown by chemical vapour deposition. Based on principal component analysis clustering, distinct regions are differentiated and probed after subsequent exposures to the late afterglow of a microwave nitrogen plasma at a reduced pressure of 6 Torr (800 Pa). The 90 × 90 µm2 RIMA mapping shows differentiation between graphene domains (GDs), grain boundaries (GBs), as well as contaminants adsorbed over and under the graphene layer. Through an analysis of a few relevant band parameters, the mapping further provides a statistical assessment of damage, strain, and doping levels in plasma-treated graphene. It is found that GBs exhibit lower levels of damage and N-incorporation than GDs. The selectivity at GBs is ascribed to (i) a low migration barrier of C adatoms compared to N-adatoms and vacancies and (ii) an anisotropic transport of C adatoms along GBs, which enhances adatom-vacancy recombination at GBs. This preferential self-healing at GBs of plasma-induced damage ensures selective incorporation of N-dopants at plasma-generated defect sites within GDs. This surprising selectivity vanishes, however, as the graphene approaches an amorphous state.

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