Intrinsic bauschinger effect and recoverable plasticity in pentatwinned silver nanowires tested in tension

Rodrigo A. Bernal, Amin Aghaei, Sangjun Lee, Seunghwa Ryu, Kwonnam Sohn, Jiaxing Huang, Wei Cai*, Horacio Espinosa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Silver nanowires are promising components of flexible electronics such as interconnects and touch displays. Despite the expected cyclic loading in these applications, characterization of the cyclic mechanical behavior of chemically synthesized high-quality nanowires has not been reported. Here, we combine in situ TEM tensile tests and atomistic simulations to characterize the cyclic stress-strain behavior and plasticity mechanisms of pentatwinned silver nanowires with diameters thinner than 120 nm. The experimental measurements were enabled by a novel system allowing displacement-controlled tensile testing of nanowires, which also affords higher resolution for capturing stress-strain curves. We observe the Bauschinger effect, that is, asymmetric plastic flow, and partial recovery of the plastic deformation upon unloading. TEM observations and atomistic simulations reveal that these processes occur due to the pentatwinned structure and emerge from reversible dislocation activity. While the incipient plastic mechanism through the nucleation of stacking fault decahedrons (SFDs) is fully reversible, plasticity becomes only partially reversible as intersecting SFDs lead to dislocation reactions and entanglements. The observed plastic recovery is expected to have implications to the fatigue life and the application of silver nanowires to flexible electronics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-146
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 14 2015


  • Flexible electronics
  • cyclic straining
  • displacement control
  • fatigue
  • nanoscale plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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