Nanobubbles at GPa Pressure under Graphene

We provide direct evidence that irradiation of a graphene membrane on Ir with low-energy Ar ions induces formation of solid noble-gas nanobubbles. Their size can be controlled by thermal treatment, reaching tens of nanometers laterally and height of 1.5 nm upon annealing at 1080 °C. Ab initio calculations show that Ar nanobubbles are subject to pressures reaching tens of GPa, their formation being driven by minimization of the energy cost of film distortion and loss of adhesion.