Pseudo-ordered distribution of Ir nanocrystals on h-BN†
A 2D material consisting of a pseudo-ordered distribution of Ir nanocrystals supported on a h-BN/Rh(111) surface is presented here. The particular spatial distribution of the Ir nanoparticles is achieved thanks to the existence of a large variety of adsorption positions within the pores of the h-BN/Rh(111) nanomesh template with hexagonal symmetry. The resulting deviations of nanoparticle positions with respect to a perfect hexagonal lattice, which make this material of special interest in the field of optics, can be tuned by the temperature and the amount of Ir. Upon annealing, this material undergoes slight structural changes in the temperature range of 370–570 K and much more drastic ones, due to cluster coalescence, between 670 and 770 K. This relatively high onset of coalescence is encouraging for using this 2D material as a catalyst for reactions such as the oxidation of carbon monoxide or of nitrogen monoxide, which are especially relevant in the field of environmental science. Finally, metal nanostructures exhibiting regular geometries have been created from this material using a scanning tunneling microscope tip. Because of the insulating character of h-BN, these nanostructures could be very promising to use in the design of conductive nanotracks.