A family of finite-temperature electronic phase transitions in graphene multilayers

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Abstract

Suspended Bernal-stacked graphene multilayers up to an unexpectedly large thickness exhibit a broken-symmetry ground state whose origin remains to be understood. We show that a finite-temperature second-order phase transition occurs in multilayers whose critical temperature (Tc) increases from 12 kelvins (K) in bilayers to 100 K in heptalayers. A comparison of the data with a phenomenological model inspired by a mean-field approach suggests that the transition is associated with the appearance of a self-consistent valley- and spin-dependent staggered potential that changes sign from one layer to the next, appearing at Tc and increasing upon cooling. The systematic evolution with thickness of several measured quantities imposes constraints on any microscopic theory aiming to analyze the nature of electronic correlations in this system.

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