Electric field control of soliton motion and stacking in trilayer graphene

Matthew Yankowitz, Joel I.Jan Wang, A. Glen Birdwell, Yu An Chen, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, Philippe Jacquod, Pablo San-Jose, Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, Brian J. LeRoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


The crystal structure of a material plays an important role in determining its electronic properties. Changing from one crystal structure to another involves a phase transition that is usually controlled by a state variable such as temperature or pressure. In the case of trilayer graphene, there are two common stacking configurations (Bernal and rhombohedral) that exhibit very different electronic properties. In graphene flakes with both stacking configurations, the region between them consists of a localized strain soliton where the carbon atoms of one graphene layer shift by the carbon-carbon bond distance. Here we show the ability to move this strain soliton with a perpendicular electric field and hence control the stacking configuration of trilayer graphene with only an external voltage. Moreover, we find that the free-energy difference between the two stacking configurations scales quadratically with electric field, and thus rhombohedral stacking is favoured as the electric field increases. This ability to control the stacking order in graphene opens the way to new devices that combine structural and electrical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-789
Number of pages4
JournalNature materials
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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