Atomistic Simulations of the Elastic Compression of Platinum Nanoparticles

IMP Espinosa and TDB Jacobs and A Martini, NANOSCALE RESEARCH LETTERS, 17, 96 (2022).

DOI: 10.1186/s11671-022-03734-z

The elastic behavior of nanoparticles depends strongly on particle shape, size, and crystallographic orientation. Many prior investigations have characterized the elastic modulus of nanoscale particles using experiments or simulations; however their reported values vary widely depending on the methods for measurement and calculation. To understand these discrepancies, we used classical molecular dynamics simulation to model the compression of platinum nanoparticles with two different polyhedral shapes and a range of sizes from 4 to 20 nm, loaded in two different crystal orientations. Multiple standard methods were used to calculate the elastic modulus from stress-vs-strain data for each nanoparticle. The magnitudes and particle-size dependence of the resulting moduli varied with calculation method and, even for larger nanoparticles where bulk-like behavior may be expected, the effective elastic modulus depended strongly on shape and orientation. Analysis of per-atom stress distributions indicated that the shape- and orientation- dependence arise due to stress triaxiality and inhomogeneity across the particle. When the effective elastic modulus was recalculated using a representative volume element in the center of a large nanoparticle, the elastic modulus had the expected value for each orientation and was shape independent. It is only for single-digit nanoparticles that meaningful differences emerged, where even the very center of the particle had a lower modulus due to the effect of the surface. These findings provide better understanding of the elastic properties of nanoparticles and disentangle geometric contributions (such as stress triaxiality and spatial inhomogeneity) from true changes in elastic properties of the nanoscale material.

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