Growth Mechanism of Metal Clusters on a Graphene/Ru(0001) Template



Using first-principles calculations combined with scanning tunneling microscopy experiments, we investigated the adsorption configurations, electronic structures and the corresponding growth mechanism of several transition metal (TM) atoms (Pt, Ru, Ir, Ti, Pd, Au, Ag, and Cu) on a graphene/Ru(0001) moiré template (G/Ru(0001)) at low coverage. We find that Pt, Ru, Ir, and Ti selectively adsorb on the fcc region of G/Ru(0001) and form ordered dispersed metal nanoclusters. This behavior is due to the unoccupied d orbital of the TM atoms and the strong sp3 hybridization of carbon atoms in the fcc region of G/Ru(0001). Pd, Au, Ag, and Cu form nonselective structures because of the fully occupied d orbital. This mechanism can be extended to metals on a graphene/Rh(111) template. By using Pt as an example, we provide a layer by layer growth path for Pt nanoclusters in the fcc region of the G/Ru(0001). The simulations of growth mechanism agree well with the experimental observations. Moreover, they also provide guidance for the selection of suitable metal atoms to form ordered dispersed metal nanoclusters on similar templates.