By combining ozone and water, the effect of exposing epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide to an aggressive wet-chemical process has been evaluated after high temperature annealing in ultra high vacuum. The decomposition of ozone in water produces a number of oxidizing species, however, despite long exposure times to the aqueous-ozone environment, no graphene oxide was observed after the two-step process. The systems were comprehensively characterized before and after processing using Raman spectroscopy, core level photoemission spectroscopy, and angle resolved photoemission spectroscopy together with low energy electron diffraction, low energy electron microscopy, and atomic force microscopy. In spite of the chemical potential of the aqueous-ozone reaction environment, the graphene domains were largely unaffected raising the prospect of employing such simple chemical and annealing protocols to clean or prepare epitaxial graphene surfaces. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.
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