Commensurate-incommensurate transition in graphene on hexagonal boron nitride

Colin Woods, Liam Britnell, Axel Eckmann, R. S. Ma, J. C. Lu, H. M. Guo, X. Lin, Geliang Yu, Y. Cao, Roman V Gorbachev, Andrey Kretinin, Jaesung Park, Leonid Ponomarenko, M. I. Katsnelson, Yu N. Gornostyrev, K. Watanabe, T. Taniguchi, Cinzia Casiraghi, H.-J. Gao, Andre GeimKonstantin Novoselov

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    When a crystal is subjected to a periodic potential, under certain circumstances it can adjust itself to follow the periodicity of the potential, resulting in a commensurate state. Of particular interest are topological defects between the two commensurate phases, such as solitons and domain walls. Here we report a commensurate-incommensurate transition for graphene on top of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). Depending on the rotation angle between the lattices of the two crystals, graphene can either stretch to adapt to a slightly different hBN periodicity (for small angles, resulting in a commensurate state) or exhibit little adjustment (the incommensurate state). In the commensurate state, areas with matching lattice constants are separated by domain walls that accumulate the generated strain. Such soliton-like objects are not only of significant fundamental interest, but their presence could also explain recent experiments where electronic and optical properties of graphene-hBN heterostructures were observed to be considerably altered. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)451-456
    Number of pages6
    JournalNature Physics
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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