Scaling behavior of stiffness and strength of hierarchical network nanomaterials


Structural hierarchy can enhance the mechanical behavior of materials and systems. This is exemplified by the fracture toughness of nacre or enamel in nature and by human-made architected microscale network structures. Nanoscale structuring promises further strengthening, yet macroscopic bodies built this way contain an immense number of struts, calling for scalable preparation schemes. In this work, we demonstrated macroscopic hierarchical network nanomaterials made by the self-organization processes of dealloying. Their hierarchical architecture affords enhanced strength and stiffness at a given solid fraction, and it enables reduced solid fractions by dealloying. Scaling laws for the mechanics and atomistic simulation support the observations. Because they expose the systematic benefits of hierarchical structuring in nanoscale network structures, our materials may serve as prototypes for future lightweight structural materials.
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