Near–atomic-scale observation of grain boundaries in a layer-stacked two-dimensional polymer

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Science Advances  14 Aug 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 33, eabb5976
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abb5976


Two-dimensional (2D) polymers hold great promise in the rational materials design tailored for next-generation applications. However, little is known about the grain boundaries in 2D polymers, not to mention their formation mechanisms and potential influences on the material’s functionalities. Using aberration-corrected high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, we present a direct observation of the grain boundaries in a layer-stacked 2D polyimine with a resolution of 2.3 Å, shedding light on their formation mechanisms. We found that the polyimine growth followed a “birth-and-spread” mechanism. Antiphase boundaries implemented a self-correction to the missing-linker and missing-node defects, and tilt boundaries were formed via grain coalescence. Notably, we identified grain boundary reconstructions featuring closed rings at tilt boundaries. Quantum mechanical calculations revealed that boundary reconstruction is energetically allowed and can be generalized into different 2D polymer systems. We envisage that these results may open up the opportunity for future investigations on defect-property correlations in 2D polymers.

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