Surface Energy and Nanoscale Mechanics
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The mechanical response of nanostructures, or materials with characteristic features at the nanoscale, differs from their coarser counterparts. An important physical reason for this size-dependent phenomenology is that surface or interface properties are different than those of the bulk material and acquire significant prominence due to an increased surface-to-volume ratio at the nanoscale. In this chapter, we provide an introductory tutorial on the continuum approach to incorporate the effect of surface energy, stress, and elasticity and address the size-dependent elastic response at the nanoscale. We present some simple illustrative examples that underscore both the physics underpinning the capillary phenomenon in solids as well as a guide to the use of the continuum theory of surface energy.
Support from the University of Houston and the M. D. Anderson Professorship is gratefully acknowledged.
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