Long-range linear elasticity and mechanical instability of self-scrolling binormal nanohelices under a uniaxial load†
Mechanical properties of self-scrolling binormal nanohelices with a rectangular cross-section are investigated under uniaxial tensile and compressive loads using nanorobotic manipulation and Cosserat curve theory. Stretching experiments demonstrate that small-pitch nanohelices have an exceptionally large linear elasticity region and excellent mechanical stability, which are attributed to their structural flexibility based on an analytical model. In comparison between helices with a circular, square and rectangular cross-section, modeling results indicate that, while the binormal helical structure is stretched with a large strain, the stress on the material remains low. This is of particular significance for such applications as elastic components in micro-/nanoelectromechanical systems (MEMS/NEMS). The mechanical instability of a self-scrolling nanohelix under compressive load is also investigated, and the low critical load for buckling suggests that the self-scrolling nanohelices are more suitable for extension springs in MEMS/NEMS.