Nanoporous Gold - Testing Macro-scale Samples to Probe Small-scale Mechanical Behavior


Nanoporous gold made by dealloying exemplifies how the exciting mechanical properties of nanoscale objects can be exploited in designing materials from which macroscopic things can be formed. The homogeneous microstructure and the possibility of adjusting the ligament size, L, between few and few hundred nm, along with the high deformability and reproducible mechanical behavior predestine the material for model studies of small-scale plasticity using reliable macroscopic testing schemes on mm- or cm-size samples. Such experiments tend to agree with the Gibson-Ashby scaling relation for strength versus solid fraction, while suggesting an essentially scaling of the local strength of the ligaments. By contrast, the elastic compliance is dramatically enhanced compared to the Gibson-Ashby relation for the stiffness. Contrary to intuition, the anomalously compliant behavior of the nanomaterial goes along with a trend for more stiffness at smaller L. This article discusses surface excess elasticity, nonlinear elastic behavior and specifically shear instability of the bulk, network connectivity, and the surface chemistry as relevant issues which deserve further study.
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