Atomic-scale dynamics of triangular hole growth in monolayer hexagonal boron nitride under electron irradiation†
The production of holes by electron beam irradiation in hexagonal boron nitride (hBN), which has a lattice similar to that of graphene, is monitored over time using atomic resolution transmission electron microscopy. The holes appear to be initiated by the formation of a vacancy of boron and grow in a manner that retains an overall triangular shape. The hole growth process involves the formation of single chains of B and N atoms and is accompanied by the ejection of atoms and bundles of atoms along the hole edges, as well as atom migration. These observations are compared to density functional theory calculations and molecular dynamics simulations.