Atomistic Characterization and Continuum Modeling of Novel Thermomechanical Behaviors of Zinc Oxide Nanostructures

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Kulkarni, Ambarish J.
Zhou, Min
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ZnO nanowires and nanorods are a new class of one-dimensional nanomaterials with a wide range of applications in NEMS. The motivation for this work stems from the lack of understanding and characterization of their thermomechanical behaviors essential for their incorporation in nanosystems. The overall goal of this work is to develop a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms controlling the responses of these nanostructures with focus on: (1) development of a molecular dynamics based framework for analyzing thermomechanical behaviors, (2) characterization of the thermal and mechanical behaviors in ZnO nanowires and (3) development of models for pseudoelasticity and thermal conductivity. The thermal response analyses show that the values of thermal conductivity are one order of magnitude lower than that for bulk ZnO due to surface scattering of phonons. A modified equation for phonon radiative transport incorporating the effects of surface scattering is used to model the thermal conductivity as a function of wire size and temperature. Quasistatic tensile loading of wires show that the elastic moduli values are 68.2-27.8% higher than that for bulk ZnO. Previously unknown phase transformations from the initial wurtzite (WZ) structure to graphitic (HX) and body-centered-tetragonal (BCT-4) phases are discovered in nanowires which lead to a more complete understanding of the extent of polymorphism in ZnO and its dependence on load triaxiality. The reversibility of the WZ-to-HX transform gives rise to a novel pseudoelastic behavior with recoverable strains up to 16%. A micromechanical continuum model is developed to capture the major characteristics of the pseudoelastic behavior accounting for size and temperature effects. The effect of the phase transformations on the thermal properties is characterized. Results obtained show that the WZ→HX phase transformation causes a novel transition in thermal response with the conductivity of HX wires being 20.5-28.5% higher than that of the initial WZ-structured wires. The results obtained here can provide guidance and criteria for the design and fabrication of a range of new building blocks for nanometer-scale devices that rely on thermomechanical responses.
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