Does Hooke's law work in helical nanosprings?

SD Ben and JH Zhao and T Rabczuk, PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 17, 20990-20997 (2015).

DOI: 10.1039/c5cp02802g

Hooke's law is a principle of physics that states that the force needed to extend a spring by some distance is proportional to that distance. The law is always valid for an initial portion of the elastic range for nearly all helical macrosprings. Here we report the sharp nonlinear force-displacement relation of tightly wound helical carbon nanotubes at even small displacement via a molecular mechanics model. We demonstrate that the van der Waals (vdW) interaction between the intertube walls dominates the nonlinear relation based on our analytical expressions. This study provides physical insights into the origin of huge nonlinearity of the helical nanosprings.

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