Van der Waals pressure and its effect on trapped interlayer molecules

K. S. Vasu, Eric Prestat, Jijo Abraham, James Dix, R J Kashtiban, J. Beheshtian, J. Sloan, Paola Carbone, M. Neek-Amal, Sarah Haigh, Andre Geim, Rahul Raveendran Nair

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Van der Waals assembly of two-dimensional crystals continue attract intense interest due to the prospect of designing novel materials with on-demand properties. One of the unique features of this technology is the possibility of trapping molecules between two-dimensional crystals. The trapped molecules are predicted to experience pressures as high as 1 GPa. Here we report measurements of this interfacial pressure by capturing pressure-sensitive molecules and studying their structural and conformational changes. Pressures of 1.2±0.3 GPa are found using Raman spectrometry for molecular layers of 1-nm in thickness. We further show that this pressure can induce chemical reactions, and several trapped salts are found to react with water at room temperature, leading to two-dimensional crystals of the corresponding oxides. This pressure and its effect should be taken into account in studies of van der Waals heterostructures and can also be exploited to modify materials confined at the atomic interfaces.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number12168
    JournalNature Communications
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2016


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