• Sánchez-Barriga, J.; Bihlmayer, G.; Wortmann, D .; Marchenko, D.; Rader, O.; Varykhalov, A.: Effect of structural modulation and thickness of a graphene overlayer on the binding energy of the Rashba-type surface state of Ir(111). New Journal of Physics 15 (2013), p. 115009/1-18

Open Access Version

The Ir(111) surface is known to host a surface state with a giant spin–orbit splitting due to the Rashba effect. This surface state is stable even in air when Ir is protected with an epitaxial graphene overlayer. In the present paper, we reveal an effect allowing one to tune the binding energy of this spin-split surface state up and down and demonstrate the practical application of this effect by two different approaches. The first approach is related to a decoration of the moiré pattern of single-layer graphene on Ir(111) by self-assembled nanoclusters of different compositions. The clusters locally pin graphene to the Ir substrate and enhance the amplitude of its structural corrugation, which, in turn, leads to an increase in the surface state binding energy. The second approach is related to the synthesis of few-layer graphene on Ir(111) by segregation of carbon. Additional graphene layers induce a shift of the Ir surface state towards lower binding energies and bring it almost to the Fermi level. Based on density functional calculations performed for the graphene/Ir(111) system, we show that in both cases the effect causing the binding energy shifts is intimately related to the distance between graphene and the Ir surface, which is subject to change due to deposition of clusters or by increasing the amount of graphene overlayers. In contrast, the observed spin–orbit splitting of the Ir(111) surface state remains remarkably robust and constant in all cases. Our theoretical analysis reveals that such stability can be explained by the localization properties of the Ir surface state that is a deep surface resonance.