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Do Twin Boundaries Always Strengthen Metal Nanowires?

Yongfeng Zhang and Hanchen Huang*

Author Affiliations

Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, 12180, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2008, 4:34-38  doi:10.1007/s11671-008-9198-1

Published: 11 November 2008


It has been widely reported that twin boundaries strengthen nanowires regardless of their morphology—that is, the strength of nanowires goes up as twin spacing goes down. This article shows that twin boundaries do not always strengthen nanowires. Using classical molecular dynamics simulations, the authors show that whether twin boundaries strengthen nanowires depends on the necessary stress for dislocation nucleation, which in turn depends on surface morphologies. When nanowires are circular cylindrical, the necessary stress of dislocation nucleation is high and the presence of twin boundaries lowers this stress; twin boundaries soften nanowires. In contrast, when nanowires are square cylindrical, the necessary stress of dislocation nucleation is low, and a higher stress is required for dislocations to penetrate twin boundaries; they strengthen nanowires.

Nanowire; Twin; Strengthening; Dislocation; Simulation