Activation energy paths for graphene nucleation and growth on Cu

Hokwon Kim, Cecilia Mattevi, M. Reyes Calvo, Jenny C. Oberg, Luca Artiglia, Stefano Agnoli, Cyrus F. Hirjibehedin, Manish Chhowalla, Eduardo Saiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

282 Citations (Scopus)


The synthesis of wafer-scale single crystal graphene remains a challenge toward the utilization of its intrinsic properties in electronics. Until now, the large-area chemical vapor deposition of graphene has yielded a polycrystalline material, where grain boundaries are detrimental to its electrical properties. Here, we study the physicochemical mechanisms underlying the nucleation and growth kinetics of graphene on copper, providing new insights necessary for the engineering synthesis of wafer-scale single crystals. Graphene arises from the crystallization of a supersaturated fraction of carbon-adatom species, and its nucleation density is the result of competition between the mobility of the carbon-adatom species and their desorption rate. As the energetics of these phenomena varies with temperature, the nucleation activation energies can span over a wide range (1-3 eV) leading to a rational prediction of the individual nuclei size and density distribution. The growth-limiting step was found to be the attachment of carbon-adatom species to the graphene edges, which was independent of the Cu crystalline orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3614-3623
Number of pages10
JournalACS nano
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 24 2012


  • 2D nanomaterial
  • chemical vapor deposition
  • graphene
  • large-area optoelectronics
  • nucleation and growth
  • surface catalysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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