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K4.04/J3.04 - Origin of Band Gaps in Graphene on Hexagonal Boron Nitride 
December 1, 2014   4:45pm - 5:00pm

Recent progress in preparing well controlled 2D van der Waals heterojunctions has opened up a new frontier in materials physics. In this paper we address the intriguing energy gaps that are sometimes observed when a graphene sheet is placed on a hexagonal boron nitride substrate, demonstrating that they are produced by an interesting interplay between structural and electronic properties, including electronic many-body exchange interactions. Our theory is able to explain the observed gap behavior by accounting first for the structural relaxation of graphene’s carbon atoms when placed on a boron nitride substrate and then for the influence of the substrate on low-energy π-electrons located at relaxed carbon atom sites. The methods we employ can be applied to many other van der Waals heterojunctions.

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