Orientation-dependent mechanical response of graphene/BN hybrid nanostructures

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Department of Physics


Graphene-based hybrid van der Waals structures have emerged as a new class of materials for novel multifunctional applications. In such a vertically-stacked heterostructure, it is expected that its mechanical strength can be tailored by the orientation of the constituent monolayers relative to each other. In this paper, we explore this hypothesis by investigating the orientation dependence of the mechanical properties of graphene/h-BN heterostructures together with that of graphene and h-BN bilayers. The calculated results simulating the pull-out experiment show a noticeable dependence of the (out-of-plane) transverse mechanical response, which is primarily governed by the interlayer strength, on the stacking configurations. The degree of the dependence is directly related to the nature of the interlayer interactions, which change from covalent to covalent polar in going from graphene bilayer to graphene/BN to BN bilayer. In contrast, molecular dynamics simulations mimicking nanoindentation experiments predict that the in-plane mechanical response, which mainly depends on the intra-layer interactions, shows little or no dependence on the stacking-order. The BN monolayer is predicted to fracture before graphene regardless of the stacking pattern or configuration in the graphene/BN heterostructure, affirming the mechanical robustness of graphene. Thus, the graphene-based hybrid structures retain both stiffness and toughness required for a wide range of optoelectromechanical applications.

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