A scanning tunneling microscope supplemented with a force sensor is used to study the mechanical properties of a novel metallic nanostructure: a freely suspended chain of single gold atoms. We find that the bond strength of the nanowire is about twice that of a bulk metallic bond. We perform ab initio calculations of the force at chain fracture and compare quantitatively with experimental measurements. The observed mechanical failure and nanoelastic processes involved during atomic wire fabrication are investigated using molecular dynamics simulations, and we find that the total effective stiffness of the nanostructure is strongly affected by the detailed local atomic arrangement at the chain bases.
Bibliographical noteCopyright (2001) American Physical Society
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