Open Access Nano Express

Multiscale Simulation of Indentation, Retraction and Fracture Processes of Nanocontact

Jifa Mei, Junwan Li, Yushan Ni* and Huatao Wang

Author Affiliations

Department of Mechanics and Engineering Science, Fudan University, 200433, Shanghai, China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2010, 5:692-700  doi:10.1007/s11671-010-9533-1

Published: 16 January 2010


The process of nanocontact including indentation and retraction between a large Ni tip and a Cu substrate is investigated using quasicontinuum (QC) method. The multiscale model reveals that significant plastic deformation occurs during the process of nanocontact between Ni tip and Cu substrate. Plastic deformation is observed in an area as large as 20 nm wide and 10 nm thick beneath Ni tip during the indentation and retraction. Also, plastic deformation at a deep position in the Cu substrate does not disappear after the neck failure. The analysis of generalized planar fault energy curve shows that there is a strong tendency for deformation twinning in Cu substrate. However, deformation twinning will be retarded during indentation due to the high stress intensity caused by stepped surface of Ni tip. The abrupt drop of load curve during tip retraction is attributed to the two different fracture mechanisms. One is atomic rearrangement near the interface of Ni tip and Cu substrate at the initial stage of neck fracture, the other is shear behavior of adjacent {111} planes at the necking point. A comparison of the critical load and critical contact radius for neck fracture is also made between theoretical values and our numerical results.

Multiscale simulation; Quasicontinuum method; Nanocontact; Neck fracture