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A Simple Transmission Electron Microscopy Method for Fast Thickness Characterization of Suspended Graphene and Graphite Flakes

  • Stefano Rubino (a1), Sultan Akhtar (a1) (a2) and Klaus Leifer (a1)

We present a simple, fast method for thickness characterization of suspended graphene/graphite flakes that is based on transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We derive an analytical expression for the intensity of the transmitted electron beam I0(t), as a function of the specimen thickness t (t<<λ; where λ is the absorption constant for graphite). We show that in thin graphite crystals the transmitted intensity is a linear function of t. Furthermore, high-resolution (HR) TEM simulations are performed to obtain λ for a 001 zone axis orientation, in a two-beam case and in a low symmetry orientation. Subsequently, HR (used to determine t) and bright-field (to measure I0(0) and I0(t)) images were acquired to experimentally determine λ. The experimental value measured in low symmetry orientation matches the calculated value (i.e., λ=225±9 nm). The simulations also show that the linear approximation is valid up to a sample thickness of 3–4 nm regardless of the orientation and up to several ten nanometers for a low symmetry orientation. When compared with standard techniques for thickness determination of graphene/graphite, the method we propose has the advantage of being simple and fast, requiring only the acquisition of bright-field images.

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Microscopy and Microanalysis
  • ISSN: 1431-9276
  • EISSN: 1435-8115
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