Elastic strain engineering (ESE)means to tune the properties of a material by imposing an elastic strain on it. As “smaller is stronger” tells, nanostructured materials such as nanowires, thin films, atomic sheets etc. can sustain uch higher non-hydrostatic (tensile, compressive, or shear) stresses than their bulk counterpart, up to a significant fraction of its ideal strength without inelastic relaxation by plasticity or fracture.  By varying the 6-dimensional elastic strain as continuous variables, he physical and chemical (e.g. electronic, optical, magnetic, thermal, mechanoelectrical, catalytic) properties of a material can be tailored in a large range.  To achieve rational ESE, investigation is carried out in CAMP-Nano in the following directions.

Ø Elastic strain generation: It is the precondition for the success of ESE to apply elastic strain onto nanomaterial precisely, reversibly, and controllably.  Therefore, efforts are made to develop MEMS-based elastic strain generators and electron microscope based elastic strain measurement techniques. 

Ø Strain effect prediction: It will be time and energy efficient if one can predict the effects of elastic strains on the properties of a material, therefore various simulation approaches are employ for ESE study, from ab initio to continuum scale modeling.

Ø Strain effect measurement: To prove and improve thetheory and modeling of ESE, it is essential to study experimentally the property evolution as a function of elastic strain.  Due to the characteristics of elastic strain (dynamical and reversible), in situ multi-field (mechano-thermo-electrical for example) measurement techniques are being developed.

Ø Elastic strain relaxation: To understand the limit and reliability of ESE, it is necessary to answer the following question: at what level and for how long time the elastic strain applied on nanomaterials will be relaxed.  Consequently the mechanism of plastic deformation and defect evolution need to be investigated.




H. Guo, K. Chen, Y. Oh, K. Wang, C. Dejoie, S.A. Syed Asif, O.L. Warren, Z.W. Shan, J. Wu & A.M. Minor, Mechanics and dynamics of the strain-induced M1-M2 structural phase transition in individual VO2 nanowires. Nano Letters 11, 3207-3213, (2011).

L. Tian, J. Li, J. Sun, E. Ma & Z.W. Shan, Approaching the ideal elastic limit of metallic glasses. Nature Communications3, 609, (2012).

Z.W. Shan, In Situ TEM Investigation of the Mechanical Behavior of Micronanoscaled Metal Pillars. JOM 64, 1229-1234 (2012).

L. Tian, J. Li, J. Sun, E. Ma & Z.W. Shan, Visualizing size-dependent deformation mechanism transition in Sn. Scientific Reports 3, 2113, (2013).

C.C. Wang, Y.W. Mao, Z.W. Shan, M. Dao, J. Li, J. Sun, E. Ma & S. Suresh, Real-time, high-resolution study of nanocrystallization and fatigue cracking in a cyclically strained metallic glass. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 110, 19725-19730, (2013).

J. Li, Z.W. Shan & E. Ma, Elastic strain engineering for unprecedented materials properties. MRS Bulletin39, 108-114, (2014).