Novel Electromechanical Phenomena at the Nanoscale: Phenomenological Theory and Atomistic Modeling
In the past two decades, the fact that “small is different” has been established for a wide variety of phenomena, including electrical, optical, magnetic, and mechanical behavior of materials. However, one largely untapped but potentially very important area of nanoscience involves the interplay of electricity and mechanics at the nanoscale. In this article, predicated on both phenomenological approaches and atomistic calculations, we summarize the state-of-the-art in understanding electromechanical coupling at the nanoscale. First, we address flexoelectricity—the coupling of strain gradient to polarization. Flexoelectricity exists in both piezoelectric and nonpiezoelectric dielectrics. As a high-order spatial-dispersion effect, the flexoelectricity becomes more and more important with the reduction of the spatial scale of the problem. Exploitation of this phenomenon and the associated nanoscale size effects can lead to tantalizing applications, such as “piezoelectric nanocomposites without using piezoelectric materials.” The second issue concerns electromechanical effects at the dielectric/metal interface. An interface in solids typically exhibits a lower symmetry compared to that of the associated adhering materials. This symmetry reduction can drastically affect the electromechanical and dielectric behavior of the material at the nanoscale.
Record created on 2010-01-21, modified on 2016-08-08