Giant Atomic Swirl in Graphene Bilayers with Biaxial Heterostrain

Florie Mesple, Niels R. Walet, Guy Trambly de Laissardière, Francisco Guinea, Djordje Došenović, Hanako Okuno, Colin Paillet, Adrien Michon, Claude Chapelier, Vincent T. Renard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract The study of moiré engineering started with the advent of van der Waals heterostructures in which stacking two-dimensional layers with different lattice constants leads to a moiré pattern controlling their electronic properties. The field entered a new era when it was found that adjusting the twist between two graphene layers led to strongly-correlated-electron physics and topological effects associated with atomic relaxation. Twist is now used routinely to adjust the properties of two-dimensional materials. Here, we investigate a new type of moiré superlattice in bilayer graphene when one layer is biaxially strained with respect to the other - so-called biaxial heterostrain. Scanning tunneling microscopy measurements uncover spiraling electronic states associated with a novel symmetry-breaking atomic reconstruction at small biaxial heterostrain. Atomistic calculations using experimental parameters as inputs reveal that a giant atomic swirl forms around regions of aligned stacking to reduce the mechanical energy of the bilayer. Tight-binding calculations performed on the relaxed structure show that the observed electronic states decorate spiraling domain wall solitons as required by topology. This study establishes biaxial heterostrain as an important parameter to be harnessed for the next step of moiré engineering in van der Waals multilayers. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
Article number2306312
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number41
Early online date1 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2023


  • biaxial heterostrain
  • graphene Bilayer
  • scanning tunneling microscope
  • structural relaxation
  • topological solitons


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