skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 10:00 PM ET on Friday, December 8 until 2:00 AM ET on Saturday, December 9 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

This content will become publicly available on December 28, 2023

Title: Anomalous stability of non-van der Waals bonded B4C nanosheets through surface reconstruction

Boron carbide (B4C) has been well studied both theoretically and experimentally in its bulk form due to its exceptional hardness and use as a high-temperature thermoelectric. However, the properties of its two-dimensional nanosheets are not well established. In this paper, using van der Waals-corrected density-functional theory simulations, we show that bulk B4C can be cleaved along different directions to form B4C nanosheets with low formation energies. We find that there is minimal dependence of formation energies on cleavage planes and surface terminations, even though the bulk is not van der Waals layered. This anomalous stability of B4C nanosheets is found to be a result of surface reconstructions that are unique to B-rich systems. While the density of states of the bulk B4C indicate that it is a semiconductor, the B4C nanosheets are found to be predominantly metallic. We attribute this metallic behavior to a redistribution of charges on the surface bonds of the films. The Seebeck coefficients of the B4C films remain comparable to those of the bulk and are nearly constant as a function of temperature. Our results provide guidance for experimental synthesis efforts and future application of B4C nanosheets in nanoelectronic and thermoelectric applications.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ;
Publisher / Repository:
American Institute of Physics
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Applied Physics
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Liquid phase exfoliation (LPE) is a method that can be used to produce bulk quantities of two-dimensional (2D) nanosheets from layered van der Waals (vdW) materials. In recent years, LPE has been applied to several non-vdW materials with anisotropic bonding to produce nanosheets and platelets, but it has not been demonstrated for materials with strong isotropic bonding. In this paper, we demonstrate the exfoliation of boron carbide (B 4 C), the third hardest known material, into ultrathin nanosheets. B 4 C has a structure consisting of strongly bonded boron icosahedra and carbon chains, but does not have anisotropic cleavage energies to suggest that it can be readily cleaved into nanosheets. B 4 C has been widely studied for its very high melting point, high mechanical strength, and chemical stability, as well as its zero- and one-dimensional nanostructured forms. Herein, ultrathin nanosheets are successfully prepared by sonication of B 4 C powder in organic solvents and are characterized by microscopy and spectroscopy. Density functional theory (DFT) simulations reveal that B 4 C can be cleaved along several different crystallographic planes with similar energetic favourability, facilititated by an unexpected mechanism of breaking boron icosahedra and forming new boron-rich cage structures at the surface. Atomic force microscopy (AFM) shows that the nanosheets produced by LPE are as thin as 5 nm, with an average thickness of 31.4 nm and average area of 16 000 nm 2 . Raman spectroscopy shows that many of the nanosheets exhibit additional carbon-rich peaks that change with laser irradiation, which are attributed to atomic rearrangements and amorphization at the nanosheet surfaces, consistent with the diverse cleavage planes. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) demonstrates that many different cleavage planes exist among the exfoliated nanosheets, in agreement with DFT simulations. This work elucidates the exfoliation mechanism of 2D B 4 C and suggests that LPE can be applied to generate nanosheets from a variety of non-layered and non-vdW materials. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Pivotal to functional van der Waals stacked flexible electronic/excitonic/spintronic/thermoelectric chips is the synergy amongst constituent layers. However; the current techniques viz. sequential chemical vapor deposition, micromechanical/wet‐chemical transfer are mostly limited due to diffused interfaces, and metallic remnants/bubbles at the interface. Inter‐layer‐coupled 2+δ‐dimensional materials, as a new class of materials can be significantly suitable for out‐of‐plane carrier transport and hence prompt response in prospective devices. Here, the discovery of the use of exotic electric field ≈106 V cm1(at microwave hot‐spot) and 2 thermomechanical conditions i.e. pressure ≈1 MPa, T ≈ 200 °C (during solvothermal reaction) to realize 2+δ‐dimensional materials is reported. It is found that PzPzchemical bonds form between the component layers, e.g., CB and CN in G‐BN, MoN and MoB in MoS2‐BN hybrid systems as revealed by X‐ray photoelectron spectroscopy. New vibrational peaks in Raman spectra (BC ≈1320 cm–1for the G‐BN system and MoB ≈365 cm–1for the MoS2‐BN system) are recorded. Tunable mid‐gap formation, along with diodic behavior (knee voltage ≈0.7 V, breakdown voltage ≈1.8 V) in the reduced graphene oxide‐reduced BN oxide (RGO‐RBNO) hybrid system is also observed. Band‐gap tuning in MoS2‐BN system is observed. Simulations reveal stacking‐dependent interfacial charge/potential drops, hinting at the feasibility of next‐generation functional devices/sensors.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    A key advantage of utilizing van‐der‐Waals (vdW) materials as defect‐hosting platforms for quantum applications is the controllable proximity of the defect to the surface or the substrate allowing for improved light extraction, enhanced coupling with photonic elements, or more sensitive metrology. However, this aspect results in a significant challenge for defect identification and characterization, as the defect's properties depend on the the atomic environment. This study explores how the environment can influence the properties of carbon impurity centers in hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). It compares the optical and electronic properties of such defects between bulk‐like and few‐layer films, showing alteration of the zero‐phonon line energies and their phonon sidebands, and enhancements of inhomogeneous broadenings. To disentangle the mechanisms responsible for these changes, including the atomic structure, electronic wavefunctions, and dielectric screening, it combines ab initio calculations with a quantum‐embedding approach. By studying various carbon‐based defects embedded in monolayer and bulk hBN, it demonstrates that the dominant effect of the change in the environment is the screening of density–density Coulomb interactions between the defect orbitals. The comparative analysis of experimental and theoretical findings paves the way for improved identification of defects in low‐dimensional materials and the development of atomic scale sensors for dielectric environments.

    more » « less
  4. Recent technology development of logic devices based on 2-D semiconductors such as MoS2, WS2, and WSe2 has triggered great excitement, paving the way to practical applications. Making low-resistance p-type contacts to 2-D semiconductors remains a critical challenge. The key to addressing this challenge is to find high-work function metallic materials which also introduce minimal metal-induced gap states (MIGSs) at the metal/semiconductor interface. In this work, we perform a systematic computational screening of novel metallic materials and their heterojunctions with monolayer WSe2 based on ab initio density functional theory and quantum device simulations. Two contact strategies, van der Waals (vdW) metallic contact and bulk semimetallic contact, are identified as promising solutions to achieving Schottky-barrier-free and low-contact-resistance p-type contacts for WSe2 p-type field-effect transistor (pFETs). Good candidates of p-type contact materials are found based on our screening criteria, including 1H-NbS2, 1H-TaS2, and 1T-TiS2 in the vdW metal category, as well as Co3Sn2S2 and TaP in the bulk semimetal category. Simulations of these new p-type contact materials suggest reduced MIGS, less Fermi-level pinning effect, negligible Schottky barrier height and small contact resistance (down to 20 Ωμm ) 
    more » « less
  5. Two-dimensional (2-D) atomically thin graphene has exhibited overwhelming excellent properties over its bulk counterpart graphite, yet the broad applications and explorations of its unprecedented properties require a diversity of its geometric morphologies, beyond its inherently planar structures. In this study, we present a self-folding approach for converting 2-D planar free-standing graphene to 2-D and 3-D folded structures through the evaporation of its liquid solutions. This approach involves competition between the surface energy of the liquid, and the deformation energy and van der Waals energy of graphene. An energy-based theoretical model is developed to describe the self-folding process during liquid evaporation by incorporating both graphene dimensions and surface wettability. The critical elastocapillary length by liquid evaporation is extracted and exemplified by investigating three typical graphene geometries with rectangular, circular and triangular shapes. After the complete evaporation of the liquid, the critical self-folding length of graphene that can enable a stable folded pattern by van der Waals energy is also obtained. In parallel, full-scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are performed to monitor the evolution of deformation energies and folded patterns with liquid evaporation. The simulation results demonstrate the formation of 2-D folded racket-like and 3-D folded cone-like patterns and show remarkable agreement with theoretical predictions in both energy variations and folded patterns. This work offers quantitative guidance for controlling the self-folding of graphene and other 2-D materials into complex structures by liquid evaporation. 
    more » « less