Pressure-Induced Formation and Mechanical Properties of 2D Diamond Boron Nitride

Filippo Cellini, Francesco Lavini, Elton Chen, Angelo Bongiorno, Filip Popovic, Ryan L. Hartman, Remi Dingreville, Elisa Riedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding phase transformations in 2D materials can unlock unprecedented developments in nanotechnology, since their unique properties can be dramatically modified by external fields that control the phase change. Here, experiments and simulations are used to investigate the mechanical properties of a 2D diamond boron nitride (BN) phase induced by applying local pressure on atomically thin h-BN on a SiO2 substrate, at room temperature, and without chemical functionalization. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations show a metastable local rearrangement of the h-BN atoms into diamond crystal clusters when increasing the indentation pressure. Raman spectroscopy experiments confirm the presence of a pressure-induced cubic BN phase, and its metastability upon release of pressure. Å-indentation experiments and simulations show that at pressures of 2–4 GPa, the indentation stiffness of monolayer h-BN on SiO2 is the same of bare SiO2, whereas for two- and three-layer-thick h-BN on SiO2 the stiffness increases of up to 50% compared to bare SiO2, and then it decreases when increasing the number of layers. Up to 4 GPa, the reduced strain in the layers closer to the substrate decreases the probability of the sp2-to-sp3 phase transition, explaining the lower stiffness observed in thicker h-BN.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2002541
JournalAdvanced Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 20 2021


  • h-BN
  • mechanical properties
  • molecular dynamics
  • nanoindentation
  • phase transitions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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