Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering–Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor

Reza S. Yassar

Co-Advisor

Yoke Khin Yap

Abstract

One-dimensional nanostructures initiated new aspects to the materials applications due to their superior properties compared to the bulk materials. Properties of nanostructures have been characterized by many techniques and used for various device applications. However, simultaneous correlation between the physical and structural properties of these nanomaterials has not been widely investigated. Therefore, it is necessary to perform in-situ study on the physical and structural properties of nanomaterials to understand their relation. In this work, we will use a unique instrument to perform real time atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) of nanomaterials inside a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) system. This AFM/STM-TEM system is used to investigate the mechanical, electrical, and electrochemical properties of boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) and Silicon nanorods (SiNRs).

BNNTs are one of the subjects of this PhD research due to their comparable, and in some cases superior, properties compared to carbon nanotubes. Therefore, to further develop their applications, it is required to investigate these characteristics in atomic level. In this research, the mechanical properties of multi-walled BNNTs were first studied. Several tests were designed to study and characterize their real-time deformation behavior to the applied force. Observations revealed that BNNTs possess highly flexible structures under applied force. Detailed studies were then conducted to understand the bending mechanism of the BNNTs. Formations of reversible ripples were observed and described in terms of thermodynamic energy of the system. Fracture failure of BNNTs were initiated at the outermost walls and characterized to be brittle. Second, the electrical properties of individual BNNTs were studied. Results showed that the bandgap and electronic properties of BNNTs can be engineered by means of applied strain. It was found that the conductivity, electron concentration and carrier mobility of BNNTs can be tuned as a function of applied stress. Although, BNNTs are considered to be candidate for field emission applications, observations revealed that their properties degrade upon cycles of emissions. Results showed that due to the high emission current density, the temperature of the sample was increased and reached to the decomposition temperature at which the B-N bonds start to break.

In addition to BNNTs, we have also performed in-situ study on the electrochemical properties of silicon nanorods (SiNRs). Specifically, lithiation and delithiation of SiNRs were studied by our STM-TEM system. Our observations showed the direct formation of Li22Si5 phases as a result of lithium intercalation. Radial expansion of the anode materials were observed and characterized in terms of size-scale. Later, the formation and growth of the lithium fibers on the surface of the anode materials were observed and studied. Results revealed the formation of lithium islands inside the ionic liquid electrolyte which then grew as Li dendrite toward the cathode material.

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