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Ultrahigh stress and strain in hierarchically structured hollow nanoparticles

Abstract

Nanocrystalline materials offer very high strength but are typically limited in their strain to failure, and efforts to improve deformability in these materials are usually found to be at the expense of strength. Using a combination of quantitative in situ compression in a transmission electron microscope and finite-element analysis, we show that the mechanical properties of nanoparticles can be directly measured and interpreted on an individual basis. We find that nanocrystalline CdS synthesized into a spherical shell geometry is capable of withstanding extreme stresses (approaching the ideal shear strength of CdS). This unusual strength enables the spherical shells to exhibit considerable deformation to failure (up to 20% of the sphere’s diameter). By taking into account the structural hierarchy intrinsic to novel nanocrystalline materials such as this, we show it is possible to achieve and characterize the ultrahigh stresses and strains that exist within a single nanoparticle during deformation.

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Figure 1: As-prepared hollow nanocrystalline CdS nanospheres.
Figure 2: Four consecutive small-percentage compression tests on the same CdS hollow nanosphere.
Figure 3: Example of a typical compression-to-failure in situ compression test of an individual nanocrystalline hollow CdS sphere.
Figure 4: Load versus displacement curves for 16 different nanospheres.
Figure 5: Plot of the ultimate fracture force versus ball outer diameter for a number of compression tests of individual CdS hollow nanospheres across a range of diameters and the fracture criterion developed with the FEA modelling.
Figure 6: Predictions of FEA of compression of 450-nm-diameter, 67.5-nm-thick nanospherical shell at punch displacements of 10, 20 and 30 nm.
Figure 7: The effective stress versus effective strain.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES), of the US Department of Energy. The in situ experiments and development of the holder were supported by SBIR Phase II grant DE-FG02-04ER83979 awarded to Hysitron, Inc. (DOE support of this project does not constitute an endorsement by DOE of the views expressed in this article). Synthesis of the materials was supported by the Materials Science and Engineering Division of BES and the in situ experiments and TEM work were supported by the Scientific User Facilities Division of BES, both under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231. Modelling and theory were supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMR 0304629. This article is dedicated to the memory of our young colleague in this project, G.A., who was tragically killed in a car accident.

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Shan, Z., Adesso, G., Cabot, A. et al. Ultrahigh stress and strain in hierarchically structured hollow nanoparticles. Nature Mater 7, 947–952 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat2295

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