Comprehensive summary of the progress including crystal structures, fabrication methods, applications (especially for electronics) and functionalization of 2D-hBN from its discovery.
Two dimensional hexagonal boron nitride (2D-hBN), an isomorph of graphene with a very similar layered structure, is uniquely featured by its exotic opto-electrical properties together with mechanical robustness, thermal stability, and chemical inertness. It is thus extensively studied for application in field effect transistors (FETs), tunneling devices, deep UV emitters and detectors, photoelectric devices, and nanofillers. 2D-hBN is considered as one of the most promising materials that can be integrated with other 2D materials, such as graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs), for the next generation microelectronic and other technologies. Although it is by itself an insulator, it can well be tuned by several strategies in terms of properties and functionalities, such as by doping, substitution, functionalization and hybridization, making 2D-hBN a truly versatile type of functional materials for a wide range of applications. In this review, the distinct structural characteristics of 2D-hBN, doping- and defect-induced variations in energy bands and structures, and resultant properties, are presented. There are a wide variety of processing routes that have been developed for 2D-hBN, including also those for doping, substitution, functionalization and combination with other materials to form heterostructures or h-BNC hybrid nanosheets, which are systematically elaborated for novel functions. The comprehensive overview provides the types of the state-of-the-art 2D-hBN made by new synthesis strategies, where the mainstream approaches include exfoliation, chemical vapor deposition, and gas phase epitaxy, together with several other new methods that have been successfully developed in the past few years. On the basis of the extraordinary electrical and functional properties and thermal–mechanical stability, the applications of hBN-based nanosheets as substrates and dielectrics, passivation layers, and nanofillers in nanodevices and nanocomposites are discussed, together with the peculiar optical and wetting characteristics.