Journal of Nanomaterials & Molecular NanotechnologyISSN: 2324-8777

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Editorial, J Nanomater Mol Nanotechnol Vol: 1 Issue: 1

Continuum Solid Mechanics at Nano-Scale: How Small Can It Go?

Igor A. Guz*
University of Aberdeen, UK
Corresponding author : Igor A. Guz, Ph.D
Sixth Century Professor in Solid Mechanics, Centre for Micro- and Nanomechanics, University of Aberdeen, Fraser Noble Building, King’s College, Aberdeen AB24 3UE, Scotland, U.K
Tel: +44 (0) 1224 272808
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: June 28, 2012 Accepted: June 29, 2012 Published: July 02, 2012
Citation: Guz AI (2012) Continuum Solid Mechanics at Nano-Scale: How Small Can It Go?. J Nanomater Mol Nanotechnol 1:1 doi:10.4172/2324-8777.1000e103

Abstract

Continuum Solid Mechanics at Nano-Scale: How Small Can It Go?

Nanotechnologies and nanomaterials are arguably the most actively and extensively developing research areas at the beginning of this century. The number of publications in scientific periodicals and conference proceedings, fully or partially devoted to nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, rapidly increases. However, development of nanomechanical models and their application to investigation of mechanical behaviour of nanomaterials in a systematic way is not happening yet. Present studies of the mechanical behaviour of nanoparticles, nanoformations, and nanomaterials are still in their infancy. Only external manifestations of mechanical phenomena are detected, but their mechanisms have not been studied yet.

Keywords:

Nanotechnologies and nanomaterials are arguably the most actively and extensively developing research areas at the beginning of this century. The number of publications in scientific periodicals and conference proceedings, fully or partially devoted to nanotechnologies and nanomaterials, rapidly increases. However, development of nanomechanical models and their application to investigation of mechanical behaviour of nanomaterials in a systematic way is not happening yet. Present studies of the mechanical behaviour of nanoparticles, nanoformations, and nanomaterials are still in their infancy. Only external manifestations of mechanical phenomena are detected, but their mechanisms have not been studied yet.
An attempt to formulate basic problems of nanomechanics and to suggest possible ways how to solve them using the knowledge accumulated within the solid mechanics and more generally, continuum mechanics was undertaken in Guz et al. 2007 and Young et al. [1,2]. These papers, which also contain extensive reviews of publications on the topic, revisited some of the well-known models in the mechanics of structurally heterogeneous media for the purpose of analysing their suitability to describe properties of nanomaterials (nanoparticles and nanocomposites) and their mechanical behaviour. A number of the macro-, meso- and micromechanical models were then reviewed and new nanomechanical models were suggested based on the knowledge accumulated within the micromechanics of composite materials. New directions of research in nanomechanics of materials were also pointed out.
New advances in nanotechnologies for the fabrication of materials with even smaller scale of internal structure bring forward the fundamental issues of the classical (Newtonian) continuum mechanics concepts. The questions naturally arise:
• What are the limits of applicability of the continuum solid mechanics to the description of mechanical processes at nano-scale, and
• How can we extend the horizons of mechanics and overcome these limits.
The rigorous and complete mathematical solution of this problem is quite difficult. It is probably true to say that modern continuum mechanics faces the same challenges it encountered almost half a century ago when the first micro-composites had been introduced.
In recent years, there have been progress in integrating continuum and atomistic description; using atomistics and other techniques to aid the development models for continua and interfaces; developing models, which take into account steep gradients in stress, strain and properties. Also, an extensive study of using the Newtonian continuum mechanics concepts at the so-called meso-level and the upper band of nano-level has been undertaken, see the reviews in Guz et al. 2010 and Young et al. [3,2]. It is now universally recognised that the applicable scales for continuum mechanics at nano-level are property and/or phenomenon dependent. For example, the applicable scales for strength and stiffness are different, not to mention the electrical, thermal, optical and coupled properties.
Ultimately, any mechanics of materials, including mechanics of nanomaterials, envisages analysis of materials for structural applications, be it on macro-, micro- or nanoscale [4,5]. It is therefore a logical conclusion that any research on nanomaterials should be followed by the analysis of nanomaterials working in various structures and devices. Micro- and nano-structural applications look like the most natural and promising areas of the nanomaterials utilisation. They do not require large industrial production of nanoparticles which are currently rather expensive. It seems pertinent to recall a discussion on mechanical properties of new materials which took place more than 40 years ago. In the concluding remarks, Bernal [6] said: “Here we must reconsider our objectives. We are talking about new materials but ultimately we are interested, not so much in materials themselves, but in the structures in which they have to function”. I believe that nanomechanics faces the same challenges that micromechanics did 40 years ago, which Professor Bernal described so eloquently.

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