In 2004 Corso et al. from Osterwalder's group at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, published the discovery of a new inorganic nanostructured two dimensional material, called nanomesh [Science 303, 217 (2004)].

The boron nitride nanomesh is composed of single sheet of hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) with a honeycomb structure. This sheet corrugates into a highly regular mesh during a high-temperature exposure of the clean rhodium to borazine. The nanomesh consists of a 3 nm unit cell with "pores" and "wires". The pores are regions with a close contact between the BN and rhodium while the wires are lifted by about 0.1 nm.

The nanomesh forms in a self-assembly process, i.e. the organisation of the atoms is driven by the Nature itself without any human intervention. The super-structure forms due to close but different periodicities (lattice constants) of the h-BN nanomesh and the Rh substrate and a site-dependent BN-Rh bond energy.

The boron nitride nanomesh is stable in air, vacuum and liquids. In vacuum it does not decompose up to temperatures of at least 796oC (1070 K). The BN nanomesh can serve as a template to assemble molecules and clusters. These characteristics promise interesting applications in areas like nanocatalysis, surface functionalisation, spintronics and quantum computing.
3D plot of an STM image
Scanning tunnelling microscope image of the nanomesh with two steps on the Rh(111) surface. Area: 80 nmx80 nm