Microscopic mechanisms of deformation transfer in high dynamic range branched nanoparticle deformation sensors

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

3 Scopus Citations
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  • Shilpa N. Raja
  • Xingchen Ye
  • Matthew R. Jones
  • Liwei Lin
  • Sanjay Govindjee


Original languageEnglish
Article number1155
Journal / PublicationNature Communications
Online published20 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


Nanoscale stress sensing is of crucial importance to biomechanics and other fields. An ideal stress sensor would have a large dynamic range to function in a variety of materials spanning orders of magnitude of local stresses. Here we show that tetrapod quantum dots (tQDs) exhibit excellent sensing versatility with stress-correlated signatures in a multitude of polymers. We further show that tQDs exhibit pressure coefficients, which increase with decreasing polymer stiffness, and vary >3 orders of magnitude. This high dynamic range allows tQDs to sense in matrices spanning >4 orders of magnitude in Young's modulus, ranging from compliant biological levels (100 kPa) to stiffer structural polymers (5 GPa). We use ligand exchange to tune filler-matrix interfaces, revealing that inverse sensor response scaling is maintained upon significant changes to polymer-tQD interface chemistry. We quantify and explore mechanisms of polymer-tQD strain transfer. An analytical model based on Mori-Tanaka theory presents agreement with observed trends.

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