Surface Ligands Dictate the Mechanical Properties of Inorganic Nanomaterials

09 November 2022, Version 1
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


The ability for organic surface chemistry to influence the properties of inorganic nanomaterials is appreciated in some instances but is poorly understood in terms of mechanical behavior. Here we demonstrate that the global mechanical strength of a silver nanoplate can be modulated according to the local binding enthalpy of its surface-bound ligands. A continuum-based core-shell model for nanoplate deformation shows that the interior of a particle retains bulk-like properties while the surface shell has yield strength values that depend on surface chemistry. Electron diffraction experiments reveal that, relative to the core, atoms at the nanoplate surface undergo lattice expansion and disordering directly related to the coordinating strength of the surface ligand. As a result, plastic deformation of the shell is more difficult, leading to an enhancement of the global mechanical strength of the plate. These results demonstrate a fundamentally new, size-dependent coupling between chemistry and mechanics at the nanoscale.


surface chemistry
electron microscopy
surface ligands
inorganic nanostructure


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