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2D vibrational properties of epitaxial silicene on Ag(111)
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The two-dimensional silicon allotrope, silicene, could spur the development of new and original concepts in Si-based nanotechnology. Up to now silicene can only be epitaxially synthesized on a supporting substrate such as Ag(111). Even though the structural and electronic properties of these epitaxial silicene layers have been intensively studied, very little is known about its vibrational characteristics. Here, we present a detailed study of epitaxial silicene on Ag(111) using in situ Raman spectroscopy, which is one of the most extensively employed experimental techniques to characterize 2D materials, such as graphene, transition metal dichalcogenides, and black phosphorous. The vibrational fingerprint of epitaxial silicene, in contrast to all previous interpretations, is characterized by three distinct phonon modes with A and E symmetries. Both, energies and symmetries of theses modes are confirmed by ab initio theory calculations. The temperature dependent spectral evolution of these modes demonstrates unique thermal properties of epitaxial silicene and a significant electron-phonon coupling. These results unambiguously support the purely two-dimensional character of epitaxial silicene up to about 300°C, whereupon a 2D-to-3D phase transition takes place. The detailed fingerprint of epitaxial silicene will allow us to identify it in different environments or to study its modifications.