Numerical characterization of the mechanical properties of metal nanowires

Zhan, Haifei (2013) Numerical characterization of the mechanical properties of metal nanowires. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Nanowires (NWs) have attracted appealing and broad application owing to their remarkable mechanical, optical, electrical, thermal and other properties. To unlock the revolutionary characteristics of NWs, a considerable body of experimental and theoretical work has been conducted. However, due to the extremely small dimensions of NWs, the application and manipulation of the in situ experiments involve inherent complexities and huge challenges. For the same reason, the presence of defects appears as one of the most dominant factors in determining their properties. Hence, based on the experiments' deficiency and the necessity of investigating different defects' influence, the numerical simulation or modelling becomes increasingly important in the area of characterizing the properties of NWs. It has been noted that, despite the number of numerical studies of NWs, significant work still lies ahead in terms of problem formulation, interpretation of results, identification and delineation of deformation mechanisms, and constitutive characterization of behaviour.

Therefore, the primary aim of this study was to characterize both perfect and defected metal NWs. Large-scale molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were utilized to assess the mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms of different NWs under diverse loading conditions including tension, compression, bending, vibration and torsion. The target samples include different FCC metal NWs (e.g., Cu, Ag, Au NWs), which were either in a perfect crystal structure or constructed with different defects (e.g. pre-existing surface/internal defects, grain/twin boundaries).

It has been found from the tensile deformation that Young's modulus was insensitive to different styles of pre-existing defects, whereas the yield strength showed considerable reduction. The deformation mechanisms were found to be greatly influenced by the presence of defects, i.e., different defects acted in the role of dislocation sources, and many affluent deformation mechanisms had been triggered. Similar conclusions were also obtained from the compressive deformation, i.e., Young's modulus was insensitive to different defects, but the critical stress showed evident reduction. Results from the bending deformation revealed that the current modified beam models with the considerations of surface effect, or both surface effect and axial extension effect were still experiencing certain inaccuracy, especially for the NW with ultra small cross-sectional size. Additionally, the flexural rigidity of the NW was found to be insensitive to different pre-existing defects, while the yield strength showed an evident decrease.

For the resonance study, the first-order natural frequency of the NW with pre-existing surface defects was almost the same as that from the perfect NW, whereas a lower first-order natural frequency and a significantly degraded quality factor was observed for NWs with grain boundaries. Most importantly, the <110> FCC NWs were found to exhibit a novel beat phenomenon driven by a single actuation, which was resulted from the asymmetry in the lattice spacing in the (110) plane of the NW cross-section, and expected to exert crucial impacts on the in situ nanomechanical measurements. In particular, <110> Ag NWs with rhombic, truncated rhombic, and triangular cross-sections were found to naturally possess two first-mode natural frequencies, which were envisioned with applications in NEMS that could operate in a non-planar regime. The torsion results revealed that the torsional rigidity of the NW was insensitive to the presence of pre-existing defects and twin boundaries, but received evident reduction due to grain boundaries. Meanwhile, the critical angle decreased considerably for defected NWs.

This study has provided a comprehensive and deep investigation on the mechanical properties and deformation mechanisms of perfect and defected NWs, which will greatly extend and enhance the existing knowledge and understanding of the properties/performance of NWs, and eventually benefit the realization of their full potential applications. All delineated MD models and theoretical analysis techniques that were established for the target NWs in this research are also applicable to future studies on other kinds of NWs. It has been suggested that MD simulation is an effective and excellent tool, not only for the characterization of the properties of NWs, but also for the prediction of novel or unexpected properties.

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ID Code: 63475
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Gu, YuanTong, Yan, Cheng, & Yarlagadda, Prasad K.D.V.
Additional Information: Recipient of 2013 Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award.
Keywords: nanowire, mechanical properties, Young’s modulus, yield strength, molecular dynamics, tension, bending, surface effect, compression, buckling, torsion, resonance, Beam theory, natural frequency, ODTA
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Oct 2013 05:48
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:48

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