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Individual Boron Nanowire Has Ultra-High Specific Young’s Modulus and Fracture Strength As Revealed by in Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy

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posted on 26.11.2013, 00:00 by Fei Liu, Dai-Ming Tang, Haibo Gan, Xiaoshu Mo, Jun Chen, Shaozhi Deng, Ningsheng Xu, Yoshio Bando, Dmitri Golberg
Boron nanowires (BNWs) may have potential applications as reinforcing materials because B fibers are widely known for their excellent mechanical performance. However until now, there have been only few reports on the mechanical properties of individual BNW, and in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) investigations shining a light on their fracture mechanism have not been performed. In this paper, we applied in situ high-resolution TEM (HRTEM) technique to study the mechanical properties of individual BNWs using three loading schemes. The mean fracture strength and the maximum strain of individual BNWs were measured to be 10.4 GPa and 4.1%, respectively, during the tensile tests. And the averaged Young’s modulus was calculated to be 308.2 GPa under tensile and compression tests. Bending experiments for the first time performed on individual BNWs revealed that their maximum bending strain could reach 9.9% and their ultimate bending stress arrived at 36.2 GPa. These figures are much higher than those of Si and ZnO nanowires known for their high bending strength. Moreover, the BNWs exhibited very high specific fracture strength (3.9 (GPa·cm3)/g) and specific elastic modulus (130.6 (GPa·cm3)/g), which are several dozens of times larger compared to many nanostructures known for their superb mechanical behaviors. At last, the effect of surface oxide layer on the Young’s modulus, fracture strength and maximum bending strength of individual BNWs was elucidated to extract their intrinsic mechanical parameters using calculated corrections. All experimental results suggest that the present BNW are a bright promise as lightweight reinforcing fillers.