Elasticity Size Effects in ZnO Nanowires-A Combined Experimental- Computational Approach

R Agrawal and B Peng and EE Gdoutos and HD Espinosa, NANO LETTERS, 8, 3668-3674 (2008).

DOI: 10.1021/nl801724b

Understanding the mechanical properties of nanowires made of semiconducting materials is central to their application in nano devices. This work presents an experimental and computational approach to unambiguously quantify size effects on the Young's modulus, E, of ZnO nanowires and interpret the origin of the scaling. A micromechanical system (MEMS) based nanoscale material testing system is used in situ a transmission electron microscope to measure the Young's modulus of 0001 oriented ZnO nanowires as a function of wire diameter. It is found that E increases from similar to 140 to 160 GPa as the nanowire diameter decreases from 80 to 20 nm. For larger wires, a Young's modulus of similar to 140 GPa, consistent with the modulus of bulk ZnO, is observed. Molecular dynamics simulations are carried out to model ZnO nanowires of diameters up to 20 nm. The computational results demonstrate similar size dependence, complementing the experimental findings, and reveal that the observed size effect is an outcome of surface reconstruction together with long-range ionic interactions.

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