Large-area, atomically thin hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) thin films were grown simply by annealing in a vacuum from solid sources deposited on Ni or Co foils. Either a sputter-deposited amorphous boron nitride film or a spin-coated borane ammonia film can be used as the B and N source. The h-BN films were formed on the back surface of the metal foil following diffusion of B and N atoms through the foil of ∼20 μm-thick, although N is almost completely insoluble in these metals. The atomically thin h-BN film largely prevented the foil from oxidizing. The h-BN film formation was found to be restricted by the provision of N atoms. The authors propose that the mass transport of N atoms in the foil and on the back surface of the foil is dominated by grain boundary diffusion and surface migration.

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