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Breaking Nano-Spaghetti: Bending and Fracture Tests of Nanofibers

Corrales, Tomas P., Friedemann, Kathrin, Fuchs, Regina, Roy, Clément, Crespy, Daniel, Kappl, Michael
Langmuir 2016 v.32 no.5 pp. 1389-1395
atomic force microscopy, mechanical properties, nanofibers, nanoparticles, polystyrenes, silica
Nanofibers composed of silica nanoparticles, used as structural building blocks, and polystyrene nanoparticles introduced as sacrificial material are fabricated by bicolloidal electrospinning. During fiber calcination, sacrificial particles are combusted leaving voids with controlled average sizes. The mechanical properties of the sintered silica fibers with voids are investigated by suspending the nanofiber over a gap and performing three-point bending experiments with atomic force microscopy. We investigate three different cases: fibers without voids and with 60 or 260 nm voids. For each case, we study how the introduction of the voids can be used to control the mechanical stiffness and fracture properties of the fibers. Fibers with no voids break in their majority at a single fracture point (70% of cases), segmenting the fiber into two pieces, while the remaining cases (30%) fracture at multiple points, leaving a gap in the suspended fiber. On the other hand, fibers with 60 nm voids fracture in only 25% of the cases at a single point, breaking predominantly at multiple points (75%). Finally, fibers with 260 nm voids fracture roughly in equal proportions leaving two and multiple pieces (46% vs 54%, respectively). The present study is a prerequisite for processes involving the controlled sectioning of nanofibers to yield anisometric particles.