Brittle materials show flexibility in nanosize

March 13th, 2008 - 3:32 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 13 (IANS) Silica, which is quite brittle, becomes quite flexible and easy to bend at the nano level, opening up the possibility of using it to make versatile nanomachines, says a new study. Maryland University researchers Pradeep Namboodiri and Doo-In Kim demonstrated that, at the nano level, silica continues to deform beyond its normal breaking point - becoming ductile like gold.

The atoms of ductile substances are able to shuffle around and remain cohesive for much longer than their brittle cousins, which contain faint structural flaws.

At the nano level, these structural flaws cease to exist, and hence the materials are nearly “perfect”. In addition, these objects are so small that most of the atoms that comprise them reside on the surface.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers Takumi Hawa and Michael Zachariah also shared the insights they gained through their computer simulations of nanoparticle aggregates.

Namboodiri explained that although the work is very basic, these findings might one day modify the design of microelectronic devices.

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