Direct imaging of a two-dimensional silica glass on graphene

Pinshane Y. Huang, Simon Kurasch, Anchal Srivastava, Viera Skakalova, Jani Kotakoski, Arkady V. Krasheninnikov, Robert Hovden, Qingyun Mao, Jannik C. Meyer, Jurgen Smet, David A. Muller, Ute Kaiser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Large-area graphene substrates provide a promising lab bench for synthesizing, manipulating, and characterizing low-dimensional materials, opening the door to high-resolution analyses of novel structures, such as two-dimensional (2D) glasses, that cannot be exfoliated and may not occur naturally. Here, we report the accidental discovery of a 2D silica glass supported on graphene. The 2D nature of this material enables the first atomic resolution transmission electron microscopy of a glass, producing images that strikingly resemble Zachariasen's original 1932 cartoon models of 2D continuous random network glasses. Atomic-resolution electron spectroscopy identifies the glass as SiO 2 formed from a bilayer of (SiO 4) 2- tetrahedra and without detectable covalent bonding to the graphene. From these images, we directly obtain ring statistics and pair distribution functions that span short-, medium-, and long-range order. Ab initio calculations indicate that van der Waals interactions with graphene energetically stabilizes the 2D structure with respect to bulk SiO 2. These results demonstrate a new class of 2D glasses that can be applied in layered graphene devices and studied at the atomic scale.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1081-1086
Number of pages6
JournalNano letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 8 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • 2D silica
  • SiO
  • Zachariasen's model
  • graphene imaging substrates
  • transmission electron microscopy
  • two-dimensional glass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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