Surface effects at the nanoscale significantly reduce the effects of stress concentrators

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3 Scopus citations


At nanoscales, the large surface over volume ratio is shown to be instrumental in eliminating or significantly reducing the adverse effects of nanoscale stress concentrators (NSCs) such as impurities, inclusions, pores, and cracks. Using molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, Cu crystals with and without NSCs are strained in tension and in shear, at two strain rates, one being an order of magnitude larger than the other. Cube-shape crystals with periodic boundary conditions show sensitivity to NSCs similar to macrosize samples where fracture mechanics works well. For such crystals, atomistic defects cluster near the loaded surfaces, the clustering being stimulated significantly by the NSCs. Crystals with non-periodic boundary conditions, however, show insensitivity to NSCs, for the sample sizes examined herein, i.e., cubes up to about 30 nm side length. Atomistic defects do not cluster near the loading surfaces but rather distribute over the entire sample. Even though the spatial distribution of atomistic defects depends on the presence of NSCs, the total number of such defects is found to be independent of the presence of NSCs for the cubic crystals. The reason for this is the presence of a "vast" amount of surfaces, for the non-periodic boundary conditions case, where numerous atomistic defects initiate, making the number of defects initiating from NSCs insignificant. Provided that the average energy in creating these defects is constant, a robust explanation of the insignificance of NSCs emerges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-286
Number of pages10
JournalProbabilistic Engineering Mechanics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Material reliability
  • Nanoscale
  • Stress concentrators
  • Surface effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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