MSE 2016 - Full Program

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Oral Poster

Surface Excess Elasticity: Influence on Nanowire Stiffness from First Principles

Thursday (29.09.2016)
12:42 - 12:45
Part of:

The size-dependent elastic response of nanomaterials and nanostructures with a large surface-to-volume ratio has attracted increasing attention. For example, in the order of tenfold stiffening has been reported for nanoporous gold (NPG) as the ligament size is decreased [1,2]. The local elasticity of the surface, expressed in terms of the surface excess elastic constants has been proposed as a key factor regarding this considerable size effect – and in fact, for NPG the contribution of surface excess

elasticity to the effective elastic response has been experimentally verified [3]. However, quantitative prediction of the influence of surface excess elasticity remains a challenging task, which is addressed in this contribution.

Density Functional Theory (DFT) simulations are employed to compute the surface excess elastic constants for selected low-index metallic surfaces, such as the (111) and (001) surfaces of gold. As a nanostructure is deformed, the effective stiffness arises from the interplay between bulk elasticity

and the contribution of the surface. Combination of the DFT parameters with a continuum description of a circular nanowire subjected to axial tension, bending, or torsion allows to assess the relative stiffness change as a function of the nanowire diameter.

Positive-valued surface excess elastic constants for gold indeed imply a stiffening effect of the surfaces. However, even for nanowire diameters as small as 10 nm, the relative change in stiffness only amounts to a few percent – implying that surface excess elasticity does not exclusively explain the experimentally observed size effect.


[1] A. Mathur, J. Erlebacher, Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 061910 (2007).

[2] N. Mameka, K. Wang, J. Markmann, E. T. Lilleodden, J. Weissmüller, Mater. Res. Lett. 4, 27 (2016).

[3] N. Mameka, J. Markmann, H.-J. Jin, J. Weissmüller, Acta Materialia 76, 272 (2014).

Dipl.-Ing. Beatrix Elsner
Hamburg University of Technology
Additional Authors:
  • Stefan Müller
    Hamburg University of Technology
  • Jörg Weissmüller
    Hamburg University of Technology