Nano Research

, Volume 5, Issue 8, pp 550–557 | Cite as

Mechanical properties of freely suspended atomically thin dielectric layers of mica

  • Andres Castellanos-GomezEmail author
  • Menno Poot
  • Albert Amor-Amorós
  • Gary A. Steele
  • Herre S. J. van der Zant
  • Nicolás Agraït
  • Gabino Rubio-BollingerEmail author
Research Article


We have studied the elastic deformation of freely suspended atomically thin sheets of muscovite mica, a widely used electrical insulator in its bulk form. Using an atomic force microscope, we carried out bending test experiments to determine the Young’s modulus and the initial pre-tension of mica nanosheets with thicknesses ranging from 14 layers down to just one bilayer. We found that their Young’s modulus is high (190 GPa), in agreement with the bulk value, which indicates that the exfoliation procedure employed to fabricate these nanolayers does not introduce a noticeable amount of defects. Additionally, ultrathin mica shows low pre-strain and can withstand reversible deformations up to tens of nanometers without breaking. The low pre-tension and high Young’s modulus and breaking force found in these ultrathin mica layers demonstrates their prospective use as a complement for graphene in applications requiring flexible insulating materials or as reinforcement in nanocomposites.


Mica nanosheets freely suspended mechanical properties atomically thin crystal mechanical exfoliation 


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andres Castellanos-Gomez
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Menno Poot
    • 1
    • 3
  • Albert Amor-Amorós
    • 2
  • Gary A. Steele
    • 1
  • Herre S. J. van der Zant
    • 1
  • Nicolás Agraït
    • 2
    • 4
  • Gabino Rubio-Bollinger
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Kavli Institute of NanoscienceDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Departamento de Física de la Materia CondensadaUniversidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  3. 3.Department of Engineering ScienceYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  4. 4.Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados en Nanociencia IMDEA-NanocienciaMadridSpain

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