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Cloning of Dirac fermions in graphene superlattices

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Leonid Ponomarenko
  • R. V. Gorbachev
  • G. L. Yu
  • D. C. Elias
  • R. Jalil
  • A. A. Patel
  • A. Mishchenko
  • A. S. Mayorov
  • C. R. Woods
  • John Wallbank
  • Marcin Mucha Kruczynski
  • B. A. Piot
  • M. Potemski
  • I. V. Grigorieva
  • K. S. Novoselov
  • F. Guinea
  • Vladimir Falko
  • A. K. Geim
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/05/2013
Issue number7451
Number of pages4
Pages (from-to)594-597
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Superlattices have attracted great interest because their use may make it possible to modify the spectra of two-dimensional electron systems and, ultimately, create materials with tailored electronic properties(1-8). In previous studies (see, for example, refs 1-8), it proved difficult to realize superlattices with short periodicities and weak disorder, and most of their observed features could be explained in terms of cyclotron orbits commensurate with the superlattice(1-4). Evidence for the formation of superlattice mini-bands (forming a fractal spectrum known as Hofstadter's butterfly(9)) has been limited to the observation of new low-field oscillations(5) and an internal structure within Landau levels(6-8). Here we report transport properties of graphene placed on a boron nitride substrate and accurately aligned along its crystallographic directions. The substrate's moire potential(10-12) acts as a superlattice and leads to profound changes in the graphene's electronic spectrum. Second-generation Dirac points(13-22) appear as pronounced peaks in resistivity, accompanied by reversal of the Hall effect. The latter indicates that the effective sign of the charge carriers changes within graphene's conduction and valence bands. Strong magnetic fields lead to Zak-type cloning(23) of the third generation of Dirac points, which are observed as numerous neutrality points in fields where a unit fraction of the flux quantum pierces the superlattice unit cell. Graphene superlattices such as this one provide a way of studying the rich physics expected in incommensurable quantum systems(7-9,22-24) and illustrate the possibility of controllably modifying the electronic spectra of two-dimensional atomic crystals by varying their crystallographic alignment within van der Waals heterostuctures(25).