Elasticity size effects in ZnO nanowires-A combined experimental- computational approach

Ravi Agrawal, Bei Peng, Eleftherios E. Gdoutos, Horacio D. Espinosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

375 Scopus citations


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 ∼140 to 160 GPa as the nanowire diameter decreases from 80 to 20 nm. For larger wires, a Young's modulus of ∼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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3668-3674
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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