Editorial Feature

What is Young's Modulus in Nanotechnology?

Young's modulus is a mechanical property that measures the stiffness of the materials when force or compression is applied. Young's modulus relates to the elasticity of the material, which is considered to be one of the crucial properties to help understand the behavior of the materials.

What is Young

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Named after a British scientist, Thomas Young, after he described the elastic properties of a solid compressed in one direction, Young's Modulus is represented mathematically.

The value of Young's modulus is understood to be dependent on temperature and pressure, making it applicable for wide applications in medicine and engineering.

Although it is regarded as a bulk material property for macroscopic structures, regardless of size, the advantage of Young's modulus to predict material characteristics at the design level has been found considerably interesting in the field of nanotechnology. However, scientists have observed that the character of mechanical structures and determining Young's modulus value at the nanoscale is a huge challenge.

What is Nanotechnology?

The term "nanotechnology" refers to the branch of science and engineering that studies materials and their applications at the nanoscale, specifically at 1-100 nm.

Although nanoscale structures have been used in many technologies for many years, it has only been possible to actively modify molecules and structures within this size range in the last few decades.

Nanomaterials have an increased ratio of surface area to volume compared to bulk materials, which leads to significant changes in physical and chemical properties. These characteristics become favorable in many industries.

Nanotechnology has shown promising discoveries to make more robust materials, detect diseases in the bloodstream, build extremely tiny machines, generate light and energy, and purify water, considerably affecting every aspect of human life.

Calculating Young's Modulus in Nanotechnology

The elastic modulus is a material's inherent property. It is, at its most basic level, a measurement of the strength of atom-to-atom bonds.

As an elastic modulus is non-permanent, the sample returns to its original shape when the applied load is removed.

Considering the vulnerability of nanomaterials in the medical field, researchers have suggested that it is necessary to track the mechanical properties' responses over time to understand the effects of nanomaterials on the filamentous actin cytoskeleton.

The cytoskeleton is a structure that gives cells shape and regulates their movement. Previous research determined that the elastic modulus of nanomaterials in the size range of 1–50 nm increases by about 1%–50%.

Due to the larger change in bond length and bond energy on a smaller scale, these effects should be considered in sizes smaller than 0 nm.

The intrinsic surface tension stress and the average lattice contraction of nanocrystals are two factors that contribute to Young's modulus enhancement. At the same time, the average atomic binding deepening, which is caused by the intrinsic small size effect, surface-breaking bonds, and a large surface ratio, contributes to the change in elastic and vibration behavior.

Experimental observation of size effect in silica-reinforced polymers was analyzed and modeled. The researchers performed the uniaxial tensile tests and demonstrated the increase in Young's modulus as particle size decreased. Furthermore, as the characteristic size of reinforcement nears nanometric, the interface becomes increasingly important in the structure's enduring impact.

This is both a drawback and an advantage, as nanomaterials, such as nanowires and nanobeams, can be used as excellent systems for studying size effects on material properties and behavior at a small scale.

Young's modulus can play a significant role in helping understand the mechanical behavior of nanomaterials, assisting in various applications in the field of nanotechnology.

Applicability of Young's Modulus in Nanotechnology

Understanding Young's Modulus means it can also be important application for mechanical switches, for which a substantial number of nodes are required to perform sophisticated logic functions.

The size-dependent Young's modulus in ZnO nanowires in the atmosphere has helped researchers to better understand nanomaterial mechanical properties.

It has also offered guidance on how to use nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), nanogenerators, biosensors, and other related technologies. The change in Young's modulus concerning the size of nanoparticles means the concept can be used in various applications, such as new sensors, ultralow-power devices, and flexible electronics.

As an important mechanical parameter in the design, manufacture, and performance of nanodevices, increased investment in research and development around Young's modulus will only accelerate the tremendous results in nanotechnological applications.

Quantification of Elastic Modulus in Materials Using AFM

References and Further Reading

Abazari, A., Safavi, S., Rezazadeh, G., & Villanueva, L. (2015). Modelling the Size Effects on the Mechanical Properties of Micro/Nano Structures. Nanomechanics for Sensing and Spectrometry. www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/15/11/28543

Asthana, A., Momeni, K., Prasad, A., Yap, Y., & Yassar, R. (2011). In situ observation of size-scale effects on the mechanical properties of ZnO nanowires. Nanotechnology. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0957-4484/22/26/265712

Blivi, A., Benhui, F., Bai, J., Kondo, D., & Bédoui, F. (2016). Experimental evidence of size effect in nano-reinforced polymers: Case of silica reinforced PMMA. Polymer Testing. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0142941816309266

Chen, Y., Gao, Q., Wang, Y., An, X., Liao, X., & Mai, Y.-W. (2015). Determination of Young's Modulus of Ultrathin Nanomaterials. Nano Lett. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01603

Feng, X., Matheny, M., Zorman, C., Mehregany, M., & Roukes, M. (2010). Low Voltage Nanoelectromechanical Switches Based on Silicon Carbide Nanowires. Nano Lett. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/nl1009734

Hearn, E. J. (1997). CHAPTER 1 - SIMPLE STRESS AND STRAIN. In E. J. Hearn, Mechanics of Materials 1 (Third Edition). doi:10.1016/B978-075063265-2/50002-5

Hirsch, C., Roesslein, M., Krug, H., & Wick, P. (2011). Nanomaterial cell interactions: are current in vitro tests reliable? Nanomedicine (Lond). https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/10.2217/nnm.11.88

Mathew, J., Joy, J., & George, S. C. (2019). Potential applications of nanotechnology in transportation: A review. Journal of King Saud University - Science. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1018364717310868

Nilsson, S., Borrisé, X., & Montelius, L. (2004). Size effect on Young's modulus of thin chromium cantilevers. Applied Physics Letters. doi:10.1063/1.1807945

Nysten, B., Fretigny, C., & Cuenot, S. (2005). Elastic modulus of nanomaterials: resonant contact-AFM measurement and reduced-size effects (Invited Paper). Nondestructive Evaluation for Health Monitoring and Diagnostics. San Diego. doi:10.1117/12.604981

Zhu, Y., & Ju, J. (2020). Interface energy effect on effective elastic moduli of spheroidal particle-reinforced nanocomposites. Acta Mechanica. doi:10.1007/s00707-020-02664-0

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Dr. Parva Chhantyal

Written by

Dr. Parva Chhantyal

After graduating from The University of Manchester with a Master's degree in Chemical Engineering with Energy and Environment in 2013, Parva carried out a PhD in Nanotechnology at the Leibniz University Hannover in Germany. Her work experience and PhD specialized in understanding the optical properties of Nano-materials. Since completing her PhD in 2017, she is working at Steinbeis R-Tech as a Project Manager.

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