Bicrystallography-informed Frenkel–Kontorova model for interlayer dislocations in strained 2D heterostructures

Md Tusher Ahmed, Chenhaoyue Wang, Amartya S. Banerjee, Nikhil Chandra Admal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, van der Waals (vdW) heterostructures and homostructures, which consist of stacks of two-dimensional (2D) materials, have risen to prominence due to their association with exotic quantum phenomena originating from correlated electronic states harbored by them. Atomistic scale relaxation effects play an extremely important role in the electronic scale quantum physics of these systems, providing means of manipulation of these materials and allowing them to be tailored for emergent technologies. We investigate such structural relaxation effects in this work using atomistic and mesoscale models, within the context of twisted bilayer graphene — a well-known heterostructure system that features moiré patterns arising from the lattices of the two graphene layers. For small twist angles, atomic relaxation effects in this system are associated with the natural emergence of interface dislocations or strain solitons, which result from the cyclic nature of the generalized stacking fault energy (GSFE), that measures the interface energy based on the relative movement of the two layers. In this work, we first demonstrate using atomistic simulations that atomic reconstruction in bilayer graphene under a large twist also results from interface dislocations, although the Burgers vectors of such dislocations are considerably smaller than those observed in small-twist systems. To reveal the translational invariance of the heterointerface responsible for the formation of such dislocations, we derive the translational symmetry of the GSFE of a 2D heterostructure using the notions of coincident site lattices (CSLs) and displacement shift complete lattices (DSCLs). The workhorse for this exercise is a recently developed Smith normal form bicrystallography framework. Next, we construct a bicrystallography-informed and frame-invariant Frenkel–Kontorova model, which can predict the formation of strain solitons in arbitrary 2D heterostructures, and apply it to study a heterostrained, large-twist bilayer graphene system. Our mesoscale model is found to produce results consistent with atomistic simulations. We anticipate that the model will be invaluable in predicting structural relaxation and for providing insights into various heterostructure systems, especially in cases where the fundamental unit cell is large and therefore, atomistic simulations are computationally expensive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104903
JournalMechanics of Materials
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • 2D heterostructures
  • 2D materials
  • Interface dislocations
  • Strain engineering
  • Straintronics
  • Structural relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials


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