Metal nanoplates: Smaller is weaker due to failure by elastic instability

DT Ho and SY Kwon and HS Park and SY Kim, PHYSICAL REVIEW B, 96, 184103 (2017).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.96.184103

Under mechanical loading, crystalline solids deform elastically, and subsequently yield and fail via plastic deformation. Thus crystalline materials experience two mechanical regimes: elasticity and plasticity. Here, we provide numerical and theoretical evidence to show that metal nanoplates exhibit an intermediate mechanical regime that occurs between elasticity and plasticity, which we call the elastic instability regime. The elastic instability regime begins with a decrease in stress, during which the nanoplates fail via global, and not local, deformation mechanisms that are distinctly different from traditional dislocation- mediated plasticity. Because the nanoplates fail via elastic instability, the governing strength criterion is the ideal strength, rather than the yield strength, and as a result, we observe a unique "smaller is weaker" trend. We develop a simple surface-stress-based analytic model to predict the ideal strength of the metal nanoplates, which accurately reproduces the smaller is weaker behavior observed in the atomistic simulations.

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