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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Gaps induced by inversion symmetry breaking and second-generation Dirac cones in graphene/hexagonal boron nitride

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Graphene/hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) has emerged as a model van der Waals heterostructure as the superlattice potential, which is induced by lattice mismatch and crystal orientation, gives rise to various novel quantum phenomena, such as the self-similar Hofstadter butterfly states. Although the newly generated second-generation Dirac cones (SDCs) are believed to be crucial for understanding such intriguing phenomena, fundamental knowledge of SDCs, such as locations and dispersion, and the effect of inversion symmetry breaking on the gap opening, still remains highly debated due to the lack of direct experimental results. Here we report direct experimental results on the dispersion of SDCs in 0°-aligned graphene/h-BN heterostructures using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. Our data unambiguously reveal SDCs at the corners of the superlattice Brillouin zone, and at only one of the two superlattice valleys. Moreover, gaps of approximately 100 meV and approximately 160 meV are observed at the SDCs and the original graphene Dirac cone, respectively. Our work highlights the important role of a strong inversion-symmetry-breaking perturbation potential in the physics of graphene/h-BN, and fills critical knowledge gaps in the band structure engineering of Dirac fermions by a superlattice potential.

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