Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (PhD)

Degree Level





Paul Thibado

Committee Member

Jacques Chakhalian

Second Committee Member

Huaxiang Fu

Third Committee Member

Jiali Li

Fourth Committee Member

Ryan Tian


The primary objective of this dissertation is to study both graphene on graphite and pristine freestanding grapheme using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and density functional theory (DFT) simulation technique. In the experiment part, good quality tungsten metalic tips for experiment were fabricated using our newly developed tip making setup. Then a series of measurements using a technique called electrostatic-manipulation scanning tunneling microscopy (EM-STM) of our own development were performed on a highly oriented pyrolytic graphite (HOPG) surface. The electrostatic interaction between the STM tip and the sample can be tuned to produce both reversible and irreversible large-scale movement of the graphite surface. Under this influence, atomic-resolution STM images reveal that a continuous electronic transition between two distinct patterns can be systematically controlled. DFT calculations reveal that this transition can be related to vertical displacements of the top layer of graphite relative to the bulk. Evidence for horizontal shifts in the top layer of graphite is also presented. Excellent agreement is found between experimental STM images and those simulated using DFT. In addition, the EM-STM technique was also used to controllably and reversibly pull freestanding graphene membranes up to 35 nm from their equilibrium height. Atomic-scale corrugation amplitudes 20 times larger than the STM electronic corrugation for graphene on a substrate were observed. The freestanding graphene membrane responds to a local attractive force created at the STM tip as a highly conductive yet flexible grounding plane with an elastic restoring force.