Hexagonalboron nitride has structural similarities to graphene. This is a hexagonal planar lattice containing atoms that are interconnected in hexagons. There is one difference: graphene has all carbon atoms. H-BN contains only three nitrogen and three of boron atoms per hexagon.
The strongest carbon-carbon bonds make graphene stronger than HBN. Both the strength and elastic modulus are comparable, with hBN slightly lower: graphene is stronger than HBN at 130GPa, while HBN has an elastic modulus around 1.0TPa. HBN’s strength and modulus are respectively 100GPa, 0.8 TPA and 0.9 TPA.
Graphene’s excellent mechanical properties are offset by its low crack resistance. This makes it brittle.
British engineer Griffiths published in 1921 a theoretical study on fracture mechanics. This included a description of the failures of brittle materials as well as the relationship between size of cracks and the forces required to make them grow. Engineers and scientists have been using this theory for many years to predict the strength of materials.
Jun Lou, Rice University’s Professor, and his research team, found that graphene has a high degree of fracture toughness. The study was consistent with Griffith’s theory about fracture mechanics. Graphene cracks will propagate when its stress exceeds the force it holds together.
Due to its structural similarities to graphene H-bn could also make it vulnerable. But this is incorrect.
H-BN was found to be 10x more ductile that graphene, according to scientists.
The cracking resistance of H-BN, which is brittle and ductile, was determined by a team consisting of Prof. Jun Lou at Rice University and Prof. Hua Yian Gao from Nanyang Technological University. Griffith’s fracture theory is not supported by this finding. Such anomalies were never seen in other two-dimensional materials. Nature published the related research findings under “Intrinsic roughening, stable crack propagation and Hexagonal Boron nuitride”.
What’s the secret to H-BN’s extraordinary toughness
They applied stress to H-BN samples using transmission electron microscopes and scanning electron microscopes. This allowed them to understand how cracks formed. The mystery was solved after over 1,000 hours of experimental work and the subsequent theoretical analysis.
H-Bn graphene is structurally identical to graphene, however boron atoms and nitrogen atoms differ. HBN therefore has an intrinsic asymmetric arrangement for hexagonal lattice, not like graphene. The cracks in graphene tend to cut through the symmetrical hexagonal structure top to bottom and open the bond as a zipper. H-BN has a hexagonal structure that is slightly different due to the stress difference between boron & nitrogen. Because of this, cracks can bifurcate and form branches.
The crack that splits means the crack is turning. To make the crack harder to propagate, this steering crack needs additional energy. H-Bn is more elastic than graphene.
The excellent heat resistance, chemical stability and dielectric properties of H-BN have made it an essential material in two-dimensional electronic, as well as other 2-bit devices. This is not only for its support but also because it acts as an insulating layer to electronic components. hBN is a tough material that can be used to make flexible electronics. This makes it a good choice and important in the development of 2D flexible materials suitable for two-dimensional electronic applications.
Future uses for hBN include electronic textiles that are flexible and electronic skin, implantable electronics, and electronic skin.
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