A computational and experimental investigation of the mechanical properties of single ZnTe nanowires

K Davami and B Mortazavi and HM Ghassemi and RS Yassar and JS Lee and Y Remond and M Meyyappan, NANOSCALE, 4, 897-903 (2012).

DOI: 10.1039/c2nr11593j

One-dimensional nanostructures such as ZnTe, CdTe, Bi2Te3 and others have attracted much attention in recent years for their potential in thermoelectric devices among other applications. A better understanding of their mechanical properties is important for the design of devices. A combined experimental and computational approach has been used here to investigate the size effects on the Young's modulus of ZnTe nanowires (NWs). The mechanical properties of individual ZnTe nanowires in a wide diameter range (50-230 nm) were experimentally measured inside a high resolution transmission electron microscope using an atomic force microscope probe with the ability to record in situ continuous force- displacement curves. The in situ observations showed that ZnTe NWs are flexible nanostructures with the ability to withstand relatively high buckling forces without becoming fractured. The Young's modulus is found to be independent of nanowire diameter in the investigated range, in contrast to reported results for ZnO NWs and carbon nanotubes where the modulus increases with a decrease in diameter. Molecular dynamics simulations performed for nanowires with diameters less than 20 nm show limited size dependence for diameters smaller than 5 nm. The surface atoms present lower Young's modulus according to the simulations and the limited size dependency of the cylindrical ZnTe NWs is attributed to the short range covalent interactions.

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