Shaping van der Waals nanoribbons via torsional constraints: Scrolls, folds and supercoils

A Shahabi and HL Wang and M Upmanyu, SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, 4, 7004 (2014).

DOI: 10.1038/srep07004

Interplay between structure and function in atomically thin crystalline nanoribbons is sensitive to their conformations yet the ability to prescribe them is a formidable challenge. Here, we report a novel paradigm for controlled nucleation and growth of scrolled and folded shapes in finite-length nanoribbons. All-atom computations on graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) and experiments on macroscale magnetic thin films reveal that decreasing the end distance of torsionally constrained ribbons below their contour length leads to formation of these shapes. The energy partitioning between twisted and bent shapes is modified in favor of these densely packed soft conformations due to the non-local van der Waals interactions in these 2D crystals; they subvert the formation of supercoils that are seen in their natural counterparts such as DNA and filamentous proteins. The conformational phase diagram is in excellent agreement with theoretical predictions. The facile route can be readily extended for tailoring the soft conformations of crystalline nanoscale ribbons, and more general self-interacting filaments.

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