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Electron-beam-assisted superplastic shaping of nanoscale amorphous silica


Glasses are usually shaped through the viscous flow of a liquid before its solidification, as practiced in glass blowing. At or near room temperature (RT), oxide glasses are known to be brittle and fracture upon any mechanical deformation for shape change. Here, we show that with moderate exposure to a low-intensity (<1.8×10(-2) A cm(-2)) electron beam (e-beam), dramatic shape changes can be achieved for nanoscale amorphous silica, at low temperatures and strain rates >10(-4) per second. We show not only large homogeneous plastic strains in compression for nanoparticles but also superplastic elongations >200% in tension for nanowires (NWs). We also report the first quantitative comparison of the load-displacement responses without and with the e-beam, revealing dramatic difference in the flow stress (up to four times). This e-beam-assisted superplastic deformability near RT is useful for processing amorphous silica and other conventionally-brittle materials for their applications in nanotechnology.

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