Two-dimensional (2D) materials like graphene and MoS2 are highly deformable because they are thin and have atomic layers that slip to relieve stress. Understanding the bending stiffness of 2D materials is key to creating deformable, high performance flexible and wearable electronics.
The Illinois MRSEC team has demonstrated a new ability to create ultra-soft 2D heterostructures by design. With combined electron microscopy studies and atomistic simulations, they show that systematically incorporating low-friction interfacial layers into 2D stacks tunes the bending stiffness up to several hundred percent. The interfacial registry and interactions were found to be crucial in determining the bending stiffness, leading to new design rules for highly deformable electronics based on 2D heterostructures.