Strain Modulation of Graphene by Nanoscale Substrate Curvatures: A Molecular View

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Yingjie Zhang
  • Mohammad Heiranian
  • Blanka Janicek
  • Zoe Budrikis
  • Stefano Zapperi
  • Pinshane Y. Huang
  • Harley T. Johnson
  • Narayana R. Aluru
  • Joseph W. Lyding
  • Nadya Mason

Research units

  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Institute for Scientific Interchange Foundation
  • Center for Complexity and Biosystems
  • University of Milan
  • CNR


Spatially nonuniform strain is important for engineering the pseudomagnetic field and band structure of graphene. Despite the wide interest in strain engineering, there is still a lack of control on device-compatible strain patterns due to the limited understanding of the structure-strain relationship. Here, we study the effect of substrate corrugation and curvature on the strain profiles of graphene via combined experimental and theoretical studies of a model system: graphene on closely packed SiO2 nanospheres with different diameters (20-200 nm). Experimentally, via quantitative Raman analysis, we observe partial adhesion and wrinkle features and find that smaller nanospheres induce larger tensile strain in graphene; theoretically, molecular dynamics simulations confirm the same microscopic structure and size dependence of strain and reveal that a larger strain is caused by a stronger, inhomogeneous interaction force between smaller nanospheres and graphene. This molecular-level understanding of the strain mechanism is important for strain engineering of graphene and other two-dimensional materials.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2098-2104
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 18652265