Publication date: Nov 03, 2021
We unveil the nature of the structural disorder in bottom-up zigzag graphene nanoribbons along with its effect on the magnetism and electronic transport on the basis of scanning probe microscopies and first-principles calculations. We find that edge-missing m-xylene units emerging during the cyclodehydrogenation step of the on-surface synthesis are the most common point defects. These “bite” defects act as spin-1 paramagnetic centers, severely disrupt the conductance spectrum around the band extrema, and give rise to spin-polarized charge transport. We further show that the electronic conductance across graphene nanoribbons is more sensitive to “bite” defects forming at the zigzag edges than at the armchair ones. Our work establishes a comprehensive understanding of the low-energy electronic properties of disordered bottom-up graphene nanoribbons.
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