Modelling the Size Effects on the Mechanical Properties of Micro/Nano Structures
Experiments on micro- and nano-mechanical systems (M/NEMS) have shown that their behavior under bending loads departs in many cases from the classical predictions using Euler-Bernoulli theory and Hooke's law. This anomalous response has usually been seen as a dependence of the material properties on the size of the structure, in particular thickness. A theoretical model that allows for quantitative understanding and prediction of this size effect is important for the design of M/NEMS. In this paper, we summarize and analyze the five theories that can be found in the literature: Grain Boundary Theory (GBT), Surface Stress Theory (SST), Residual Stress Theory (RST), Couple Stress Theory (CST) and Surface Elasticity Theory (SET). By comparing these theories with experimental data we propose a simplified model combination of CST and SET that properly fits all considered cases, therefore delivering a simple (two parameters) model that can be used to predict the mechanical properties at the nanoscale.