Winkler boundary conditions for three-point bending tests on 1D nanomaterials.Nanotechnology 2010; 21(22):225704N
Bending tests with atomic force microscopes (AFM) is a common method for elasticity measurements on 1D nanomaterials. Interpretation of the force and deflection data is necessary to determine the Young's modulus of the tested material and has been done assuming either of two classic boundary conditions that represent two extreme possibilities for the rigidity of the sample-anchor interface. The elasticity results from the two boundary conditions differ by a factor of four. Furthermore, both boundary conditions ignore the effects of deflections in the anchors themselves. The Winkler model for beams on elastic foundations is developed here for three-point bending tests to provide a more realistic representation. Equations for computing sample elasticity are derived from two sets of boundary conditions for the Winkler model. Application of this model to interpret the measurement of mechanical stiffness of a silica nanowire at multiple points in a three-point bending is discussed. With the correct choice of boundary conditions, the Winkler model gives a better fit for the observed stiffness profile than the classical beam models while providing a result that differs from both by a factor of two and is comparable to the bulk elasticity.