Dynamic topological domain walls driven by lithium intercalation in graphene

News 2023/07/25

Stacking engineering in van der Waals (vdW) materials is a powerful method to control topological electronic phases for quantum device applications. Atomic intercalation into the vdW material can modulate the stacking structure at the atomic scale without a highly technical protocol. Here we report that lithium intercalation in a topologically structured graphene/buffer system on SiC(0001) drives dynamic topological domain wall (TDW) motions associated with stacking order change by using an in situ aberration-corrected low-energy electron microscope in combination with theoretical modelling. We observe sequential and selective lithium intercalation that starts at topological crossing points (AA stacking) and then selectively extends to AB stacking domains. Lithium intercalation locally changes the domain stacking order to AA and in turn alters the neighbouring TDW stacking orders, and continuous intercalation drives the evolution of the whole topological structure network. Our work reveals moving TDWs protected by the topology of stacking and lays the foundation for controlling the stacking structure via atomic intercalation. These findings open up new avenues to realize intercalation-driven vdW electronic devices.

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