Moiré Modulation of Van der Waals Potential in Twisted Hexagonal Boron Nitride

Stefano Chiodini, James Kerfoot, Giacomo Venturi, Sandro Mignuzzi, Evgeny M. Alexeev, Bárbara Teixeira Rosa, Sefaattin Tongay, Takashi Taniguchi, Kenji Watanabe, Andrea C. Ferrari, Antonio Ambrosio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


When a twist angle is applied between two layered materials (LMs), the registry of the layers and the associated change in their functional properties are spatially modulated, and a moiré superlattice arises. Several works explored the optical, electric, and electromechanical moiré-dependent properties of such twisted LMs but, to the best of our knowledge, no direct visualization and quantification of van der Waals (vdW) interlayer interactions has been presented, so far. Here, we use tapping mode atomic force microscopy phase-imaging to probe the spatial modulation of the vdW potential in twisted hexagonal boron nitride. We find a moiré superlattice in the phase channel only when noncontact (long-range) forces are probed, revealing the modulation of the vdW potential at the sample surface, following AB and BA stacking domains. The creation of scalable electrostatic domains, modulating the vdW potential at the interface with the environment by means of layer twisting, could be used for local adhesion engineering and surface functionalization by affecting the deposition of molecules or nanoparticles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS nano
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • atomic force microscopy
  • hexagonal boron nitride
  • layered materials
  • mechanical phase imaging
  • moiré superlattices
  • van der Waals interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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