• Krivenkov, M.; Marchenko, D.; Sanchez-Barriga, J.; Golias, E.; Rader, O.; Varykhalov, A.: Origin of the band gap in Bi-intercalated graphene on Ir(111). 2D Materials 8 (2021), p. 035007/1-15

Open Access Version

Proximity to heavy sp-elements is considered promising for reaching a band gap in graphene that could host quantum spin Hall states. The recent report of an induced spin-orbit gap of 0.2 eV in Pb intercalated graphene detectable by spin-resolved photoemission has spurred renewed interest in such systems [ACS Nano 11, 368 (2017)]. In the case of Bi intercalation an even larger band gap of 0.4 eV has been observed but was assigned to the influence of a dislocation network [Phys. Rev. B 93, 165437 (2016)]. Here, we study Bi intercalation under graphene on Ir(111) and report a nearly ideal graphene dispersion without band replicas and no indication of hybridization with the substrate. The band gap is small (0.19 eV) and can be tuned by ~25 meV through the Bi coverage. The Bi atomic density is higher than in the recent report. By spin-resolved photoemission we exclude induced spin-orbit interaction as origin of the gap. Quantitative agreement of a photoemission intensity analysis with the measured band gap suggests sublattice symmetry breaking as one of the possible band gap opening mechanisms. We test several Bi structures by density functional theory. Our results indicate the possibility that Bi intercalates in the phase of bismuthene forming a graphene-bismuthene van der Waals heterostructure.