Since epitaxial silicene is not chemically inert under ambient conditions, its application in devices and the ex-situ characterization outside of ultrahigh vacuum environments require the use of an insulating capping layer. Here, we report on a study of the feasibility of encapsulating epitaxial silicene on ZrB2(0001) thin films grown on Si(111) substrates by aluminum nitride (AlN) deposited using trimethylaluminum (TMA) and ammonia (NH3) precursors. By in-situ high-resolution core-level photoelectron spectroscopy, the chemical modifications of the surface due to subsequent exposure to TMA and NH3 molecules, at temperatures of 300 ◦C and 400 ◦C, espectively, have been investigated. While an AlN-related layer can indeed be grown, silicene reacts strongly with both precursor molecules resulting in the formation of Si–C and Si–N bonds such that the use of these precursors does not allow for the protective AlN encapsulation that leaves the electronic properties of silicene intact.
Van Hao, B., Wiggers, F. B., Friedlein, R., Yamada-Takamura, Y., Kovalgin, A. Y., & de Jong, M. P. (2015). On the feasibility of silicene encapsulation by AlN deposited using an atomic layer deposition process. Journal of chemical physics, 142, 064712. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4907375