Welcome to the NTNU Nanomechanical Lab


Fabricated Anti-icing Coating Reached Ice Adhesion Lower than 1 kPa

PDMS sponge structures-based coatings fabricated by NTNU Nanomechanical Lab reached a record super-low ice adhesion strength below 1 kPa! Details can be found in a new paper published in the June issue of  Soft Matter.

Zhiliang Zhang

Joint article with Kyoto University by PhD student Molly Bazilchuk

– Molly S. Bazilchuk, Takashi Sumigawa, Takayuki Kitamura, Zhiliang Zhang, Helge Kristiansen, Jianying He
In situ imaging and analysis of the mechanical behavior of micron‐sized metal‐coated polymer particles under compression is reported. A nanoindentation set‐up mounted in a scanning electron microscope is used to observe the deformation and fracture of 10 μm polymer spheres with Ni, Ni/Au, Au, and Ag coatings. The spheres fracture in one of two metallization‐dependent modes, brittle, and ductile, depending only on the presence of a nickel layer. The metal coating always fractures parallel to the direction of compression. The mechanical properties up to the point of coating fracture are rate‐dependent due to the viscoelastic polymer core. Metal‐coated polymer spheres are an important composite material in electronics packaging, and this study demonstrates a novel method of evaluating the mechanical properties of particles to tailor them for electronic materials.


PhD candidate Sigrid Rønneberg is elected new representative on the NTNU Board

Congratulations to Sigrid!

Hun blir nytt medlem i NTNU-styret


Review article on Water Condensation and CO2 Condensation by PhD candidate Ingrid Snustad

– Ingrid Snustad, Ingeborg Treu Røe, Amy Brunsvold, Åsmund Ervik, Jianying He, Zhiliang Zhang

Liquefaction of vapor is a necessary, but energy intensive step in several important process industries. This review identifies possible materials and surface structures for promoting dropwise condensation, known to increase efficiency of condensation heat transfer. Research on superhydrophobic and superomniphobic surfaces promoting dropwise condensation constitutes the basis of the review. In extension of this, knowledge is extrapolated to condensation of CO2. Global emissions of CO2 need to be minimized in order to reduce global warming, and liquefaction of CO2 is a necessary step in some carbon capture, transport and storage (CCS) technologies. The review is divided into three main parts: 1) An overview of recent research on superhydrophobicity and promotion of dropwise condensation of water, 2) An overview of recent research on superomniphobicity and dropwise condensation of low surface tension substances, and 3) Suggested materials and surface structures for dropwise CO2 condensation based on the two first parts.


New article in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces by PhD candidatet Yizhi Zhuo

– Zhuo, Yizhi; Håkonsen, Verner; He, Zhiwei; Xiao, Senbo; He, Jianying; Zhang, Zhiliang

Icephobic surfaces are crucial to all cold-condition applications, ranging from nano to macro scales. The study presented in this manuscript focuses on enabling new functionality, namely self-healing, in passive icephobic surfaces. The aim of the work is to improve the common durability issue of all the state-of-the-art icephobic surfaces. Here, we designed and fabricated a novel icephobic material by integrating interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) into autonomous self-healing elastomer. The material showed great potentials in anti-icing applications with an ultralow ice adhesion and long-term durability. Most importantly, the material was able to demonstrate self-healing from mechanical damages in a sufficiently short time, which shed light on the longevity of icephobic surface in practical applications. Moreover, we studied the creep behaviours of the elastomer that were absent in most relevant studies on self-healing materials. We also provided molecular mechanisms of the self-healing and creep resistance of the IPN in the manuscript.


New article in Fatigue & Fracture of Engineering Materials & Structures by PhD candidate Shengwen Tu

– Shengwen Tu, Xiaobo Ren, Tore Kristensen, Jianying He, Zhiliang Zhang


Quasi-static tensile tests with smooth round bar and axisymmetric notched tensile specimens have been performed to study the low-temperature effect on the fracture locus of a 420-MPa structural steel. Combined with a digital high-speed camera and a 2-plane mirror system, specimen deformation was recorded in 2 orthogonal planes. Pictures taken were then analysed with the edge tracing method to calculate the minimum cross-section diameter reduction of the necked/notched specimen. Obvious temperature effect was observed on the load-strain curves for smooth and notched specimens. Both the strength and strain hardening characterized by the strain at maximum load increase with temperature decrease down to −60°C. Somewhat unexpected, the fracture strains (ductility) of both smooth and notched specimens at temperatures down to −60°C do not deteriorate, compared with those at room temperature. Combined with numerical analyses, it shows that the effect of low temperatures (down to −60°C) on fracture locus is insignificant. These findings shed new light on material selection for Arctic operation.


New article on polycrystalline Molybdenum disulfide published in Nano Letters by Dr. Jianyang Wu

– Jianyang Wu, Pinqiang Cao, Zhisen Zhang, Fulong Ning, songsheng zheng, Jianying He, and Zhiliang Zhang

Large-area chemical-vapor-deposited monolayer MoS2 tends to be polycrystalline with intrinsic grain boundaries (GBs). Topological defects and grain size skillfully alter its physical properties in a variety of materials; however, the polycrystallinity and its role played in the mechanical performance of the emerging single-layer MoS2 remain largely unknown. Using large-scale atomistic simulations, GB structures and mechanical characteristics of realistic single-layered polycrystalline MoS2 of varying grain size prepared by confinement-quenched method are investigated. Depending on misorientation angle, structural energetics of polar-GBs in polycrystals favor diverse dislocation cores, consistent with experimental observations. Polycrystals exhibit grain size dependent thermally-induced global out-of-plane deformation, although defective GBs in MoS2 show planar structures that are in contrast to the graphene. Tensile tests show that presence of cohesive GBs pronouncedly deteriorates the in-plane mechanical properties of MoS2. Both stiffness and strength follow an inverse pseudo Hall-Petch relation to grain size, which is shown to be governed by the weakest link mechanism. Under uniaxial tension, transgranular crack propagates with small deflection, whereas upon biaxial stretching the crack kinkily grows with large deflection. These findings shed new light in GB-based engineering and control of mechanical properties of MoS2 crystals towards real-world applications in flexible electronics and nanoelectromechanical systems.


New article in Acta Materialia by Dr. Kai Zhao

– Kai Zhao, Jianying He, A.E. Mayer, Zhiliang Zhang

Hydrogen embrittlement of metallic materials is far from being understood. In this work, we develop a hydrogen-informed expanding cavity model for the first time to describe the dynamic evolution of load-displacement curve obtained from nanoindentation tests. What we want to specially mention is that the proposed model takes into account the kinetic diffusion of H atoms towards the plastic region and the H-induced decrease of the formation energy of dislocations. This new model allows us to make comparison with atomistic simulations and nanoindentation experiments, and bridge the gap between the knowledge obtained from nano and micro-scales.


New article in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics by PhD student Xiao WANG

– Xiao Wang, Zhiliang Zhang, Ole Torsæter, Jianying He


The nanofluids or nanoparticles (NPs) transport in confined channel is of great importance for many biological and industrial processes. In this study, molecular dynamics simulation has been employed to investigate spontaneous two-phase displacement process in ultra-confined capillary controlled by surface wettability of NPs. The results clearly show that the presence of NPs modulates the fluid-fluid meniscus and hinders displacement process compared with NP-free case. From the perspective of motion behavior, hydrophilic NPs disperse in water phase or adsorb on the capillary, while hydrophobic and mixed-wet NPs are mainly distributed in the fluid phase. The NPs dispersed into fluids tend to increase the viscosity of fluids, while the adsorbed NPs contribute to wettability alteration of solid capillary. Via capillary number calculation, it is uncovered that the viscosity increase of fluids is responsible for hindered spontaneous displacement process by hydrophobic and mixed NPs. Wettability alteration of capillary induced by adsorbed NPs is dominating the enhanced displacement in the case of hydrophilic NPs. Our findings provide the guidance to modify the rate of capillary filling and reveal microscopic mechanism of transporting NPs into porous media, which is significant to the design of NPs for target applications.


New article in International Journal of Mechanical Sciences by PhD candidate Shengwen Tu

– Shengwen Tu, Xiaobo Ren, Jianying He, Zhiliang Zhang


Large deformation analyses of problems such as plastic forming, ductile fracture with finite element method need a full range of material's equivalent stress-strain curve or flow stress-strain curve. The equivalent stress-strain curve determined from the smooth round bar specimen should be corrected after diffuse necking, since tri-axial stress state occurs in the neck. The well-known Bridgman correction method is a candidate, however, it is not accurate as the strain increases. Furthermore, it is impossible to measure the equivalent stress-strain curve of each individual material zone in a weldment with cross weld tensile tests. To cope with these challenges, a correction function and an associated test procedure are proposed in this study. With the proposed procedure, the true stress-strain curve from any axisymmetric notched tensile specimen can be converted to the material's equivalent stress-strain curve accurately and no Bridgman correction is needed. The proposed procedure can be applied to both perfectly plastic and strain hardening materials. The equivalent stress-strain curve of each individual material zone in a weldment can also be measured with the proposed procedure.


Seasonal greetings


Deformation and Stability of Core–Shell Microgels at Oil/Water Interface by Dr. Yi Gong

This paper investigates the behavior of P(NIPAM-co-AAc)@PTFMA core–shell microgels at the decane/water interface. The microgels were deposited at the interface to form a monolayer film, and the film’s compression behavior was measured using Langmuir trough. Typical compression isotherm embodies four regimes, weak interaction between microgels in regime I, viscoelastic deformation in regime II, elastic deformation of microgels with thin shell while still viscoelastic deformation with thick shell in regime III. Minor desorption of microgels takes place in regime III and massive in regime IV. The critical interfacial pressure for desorption of microgels is identified in the range of 43–45 mN/m, independent of the shell thickness. It shows that the deformability of the surrounding part rather than the mean deformation of the microgels dominates their stability at the interface. These results illustrate the behavior of microgels at the interface under loading, and deepen the understanding of the stability of microgel-stabilized emulsion.


New findings in organic semiconducting nanobelts by Dr. Mao Wang

In this manuscript, we present the Raman antenna effect from organic semiconducting nanobelts of 6,13-dichloropentacene (DCP). Under resonant excitation, DCP nanobelts act like a nearly perfect dipole antenna, and all Raman signals from the intramolecular phonons of DCP exhibit the same angle-dependent behaviour. It is the first time that Raman antenna effect in organic semiconducting materials is reported. The underlying mechanism (exciton-phonon coupling) is intrinsically different from that in inorganic semiconducting materials and carbon nanotube (geometry effect). The Raman antenna phenomenon is attributed to the intramolecular exciton‒phonon coupling, which dominates over the intrinsic Raman selection rule of DCP molecules and leads to all the Raman modes possessing the same angular dependence behaviour. The formation of intermolecular exciton in DCP nanobelts further results in maximum Raman emission perpendicular to the nanobelt’s long-axis. Besides, the Raman antenna effect also amplifies the anisotropy of Raman scattering of the one-dimensional DCP nanobelts. These findings give new physical insights into the light interaction with organic semiconductors and enrich our knowledge on the exciton‒phonon coupling and its effects on the optical properties of organic semiconductors.



New article in Engineering Fracture Mechanics by PhD candidate Shengwen Tu

– Jian Shuai, Shengwen Tu, Junqiang Wang, Xiaobo Ren, Jianying He, Zhiliang Zhang


Running ductile fracture is one of the most catastrophic accidents of pipelines for natural gas transportation. Crack arrest toughness is important for preventing crack extension to a long distance along pipeline. Critical crack tip opening angle (CTOAC) is a promising parameter for characterizing crack arrest toughness. In this study, a new method is proposed to calculate the CTOAC from the energy-load curves in an instrumented drop weight tearing test (DWTT). Numerical analyses with the Gurson damage model have been conducted to verify the proposed method. It shows that results calculated from the energy-load curves are slightly lower than the results measured from specimen surface. Results calculated from the proposed method also agree well with experimental results reported in the literature.


Super-Low Ice Adhesion Surfaces-Designed and Fabricated by NML


Research news Controlling problem ice — by cracking it

Research news Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it

Research news Får problematisk is til å sprekke opp


NTNU Nanomechanical Lab has recently reached a milestone in developing anti-icing technology in the FRINATEK project SLICE!

By introducing a novel concept, we reached for the first time for pure PDMS materials the super-low ice adhesion 5.7 kPa! The ice adhesion strength for common outdoor steel or aluminium surfaces is around 600-1000 kPa. A new paper published today at Soft Matter: Multiscale crack initiator promoted super-low ice adhesion surfaces.


New article in Journal of Physical Chemistry C by PhD candidate Mao Wang

– Wang, Mao; Gong, Yi; Sotomayor Torres, Clivia M.; Alzina, Francesc; Li, Hongxiang; Zhang, Zhiliang; He, Jianying


We present the anisotropic optical properties of 1D nanobelts of 6,13-dichloropentacene (DCP). High-quality large-area well-aligned DCP nanobelt arrays were readily obtained through self-assembly utilizing the strong π-π interaction between the molecular cores by simple solution processing method. The comparison of absorption and emission spectra of DCP in solution and DCP nanobelt indicated the co-existence of intramolecular and intermolecular excitons in the aggregation state of DCP. The photoluminescence (PL) from individual DCP nanobelt exhibited strong anisotropic property and the measured polarization ratio is on average 0.92±0.05, superior to that of the prior-art organic semiconductors. Beyond that, the angle-dependent photoluminescence clearly verified that the emission arose only from the relaxation of intramolecular exciton in spite of the strong electronic coupling along the π-π stacking direction. We believe these findings will enrich our knowledge of the exciton behaviour in 1D π-π stacking organic semiconductors and demonstrate DCP’s great potential for low-cost large-scale organic optoelectronic.


A new method to determine the Poisson's ratio of viscoelastic polymer microparticles - a publication of Haiyang YU



A ‘magic’ notched tensile specimen that makes the Bridgman’s correction redundant - a new paper by PhD student Shengwen TU


Engineering Fracture Mechanics



A novel tensile testing method is proposed, and a  ‘magic’ specimen with a special notch geometry has been identified. By using this special notched tensile specimen, material’s flow stress-strain curve can be DIRECTLY obtained from the recorded load versus diameter reduction curve and no Bridgman correction is needed.


New article in Energies by PhD candidate Xiao Wang

– Xiao WANG, Senbo XIAO, Zhiliang ZHANG, Jianying HE

Imbibition in porous media is ubiquitous and has important application in oil fields. Understanding the fundamental imbibition mechanism for nanofluids is very crucial to enhanced oil recovery (EOR) by nanoparticles. As it is difficult to disentangle the specific role of different interfaces in imbibition process by experimental trials, atomistic and molecular simulations hold the key to explore the migration mechanism of nanofluids into porous media and identify the dominating driving force for nanoparticles application in EOR.

In this study, we employ molecular dynamics simulations to study the spontaneous water imbibition into ultraconfined reservoir channels influenced by nanoparticles. By combining the dynamic process of imbibition, the water contact angle in capillary and the relationship of displacement (l) and time (t), a competitive mechanism of nanoparticle effects and fluid properties on spontaneous imbibition is proposed. Our findings provide new physical insights into the roles of nanoparticles in fluid imbibition, which is the core process in a number of technologies, including enhanced oil recovery.


New article in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics by PhD candidate Bjørn Strøm

– Bjørn Andre Strøm, Jean-Marc Simon, Sondre K. Schnell, Signe Kjelstrup, Jianying He, Dick Bedeaux

Small systems are known to deviate from the classical thermodynamic description, among other things due to their large surface area to volume ratio compared to corresponding big systems. As a consequence, extensive thermodynamic properties are no longer proportional to the volume, but are instead higher order functions of size and shape. We investigate such functions for second moments of probability distributions of fluctuating properties in the grand-canonical ensemble, focusing specifically on the volume and surface terms as proposed by Hadwiger [Hadwiger, Springer, 1957]. We resolve the shape dependence of the surface term and show, using Hill’s nanothermodynamics [Hill, J. Chem. Phys., 1962, 36, 3182], that the surface satisfies the thermodynamics of a flat surface as described by Gibbs [Gibbs, Ox Bow Press, 1993, Vol. 1]. The Small System Method (SSM), first derived by Schnell et al. [Schnell et al., J. Phys. Chem. B, 2011, 115, 10911], is extended and used to analyze simulation data on small systems of water. We simulate water as an example to illustrate the method, using the TIP4P/2005 and other models, and compute the isothermal compressibility and thermodynamic factor. We are able to retrieve the experimental value of the bulk phase compressibility within 2 %, and show that the compressibility of nanosized volumes increases by up to a factor of two as the number of molecules in the volume decreases. The value for a tetrahedron, cube, sphere, polygon, etc. can be predicted from the same scaling law, as long as second order effects (nook and corner effects) are negligible. Lastly, we propose a general formula for finite reservoir correction to fluctuations in subvolumes.


New article in Journal of Eletronic Materials by Dr. Sigurd Pettersen

– Sigurd R. Pettersen, Keith Redford, John Njagi, Helge Kristiansen, Susanne Helland, Erik Kalland, Dan V. Goia, Zhiliang Zhang, Jianying He
Isotropic conductive adhesives (ICAs) are alternatives to metallic solders as interconnects in solar modules and electronic devices, but normally require silver contents >25 vol.% and elevated curing temperatures to achieve reasonable conductivity. In this work, ICAs are prepared with a silver content of 1.0 vol.% by using polymer spheres coated with nanograined silver thin films as filler particles. In contrast to conventional ICAs, there are no organic lubricants on the silver surfaces to obstruct the formation of metallic contacts, and conductivity is achieved even when the adhesive is cured at room temperature. When exposed to long-term storage at 85°C and 85% relative humidity, the silver films undergo significant grain growth, evidenced by field-emission scanning electron microscopy observation of ion-milled cross-sections and x-ray diffraction. This has a positive effect on the electrical conductivity of the ICA through the widening of metallic contacts and decreased scattering of electrons at grain boundaries, and is explained by an electrochemical Ostwald ripening process. The effects of decoupling heat and humidity is investigated by storage at either 85°C or immersion in water. It is shown that the level of grain growth during the various post-curing treatments is dependent on the initial curing temperature.


Can Hydrogen Embrittlement of High Strength Steels Even Occur at Low Temperature? New published paper gave an answer!

New paper published at Materials Science & Engineering A.

Our recent results show that hydrogen embrittlement is present at sub-zero temperatures, causing an increase in fracture toughness reference temperature T0 and a small decrease in deformation capability. The relationship between the T0 and the impact toughness transition temperature T28J, which, in the case of ultra-high-strength steel, deviates from that observed for lower strength steels, is proposed to be affected by the hydrogen content.


What are the Common Room Temperature Characteristics of Low Ice Adhesion Surfaces?

New paper published in Scientific Reports.

Our results show that low ice adhesion strength does not correlate well with water contact angle and its variants, surface roughness and hardness. Low elastic modulus does not guarantee low ice adhesion, however, surfaces with low ice adhesion always show low elastic modulus. Low ice adhesion (below 60 kPa) of commercial surfaces uniquely associates with small water adhesion force.


New article in Journal of Applied Physics by Dr. Sigurd Pettersen

Investigation of thermal transport in polymer composites with percolating networks of silver thin films by the flash diffusivity method

by Sigurd R. Pettersen, Shijo Nagao, Helge Kristiansen, Susanne Helland, John Njagi, Katsuaki SuganumaZhiliang Zhang, and Jianying He*

Journal of Applied Physics, 2017, 121, 025101


The flash diffusivity method/laser flash analysis (LFA) is one of the most popular methods for finding the thermal conductivity of a large range of materials, including polymer composites for thermal and electronic interconnects. With standardized, commercial instruments available, it has become common practice even in peer-reviewed journal publications to only state the instrument model and manufacturer, and then give the estimated thermal conductivity as an absolute value without discussing the intermediate factors. In this paper, we show that both the absolute values and temperature-dependent behavior of the specific heat capacity of polymer composite materials varies significantly with the three most common methods used to estimate this input factor for the LFA method, and that this further has a significant impact on the estimated thermal conductivity. We also give a systematic theoretical overview of the methods used in the manuscript, as this to our best knowledge has not before been published in one single paper. We expect that this paper can be of large value for researchers interested in investigating thermal properties of polymer composites, and as a general starting point for researchers interested in using the LFA method.


Zhiliang Zhang


Fracture Mechanics and Nanomechanics


Tel: +47 73592530


Jianying He 




Tel: +47 73594686

Helge Kristiansen 

Adjunct Professor 




Jim Stian Olsen

Adjunct Associate professor

Fracture Mechanics and Materials Technology



Postdoc research fellow
Atomistic modeling

Tong Li

Postdoc research fellow




Jianying Wu

Postdoc research fellow

Atomistic modeling



Øyvind Othar Aunet Persvik

PhD student

Fracture and Fatigue-Measurement Method



PhD student
Nanomechanics for EOR
PhD student
Fracture mechanics
PhD student
PhD student
PhD student
Fracture mechanics
PhD student
PhD student

PhD student
PhD student
PhD student
PhD student
Fracture mechanics
PhD student
PhD student
PhD student
PhD student
Visiting PhD student
Fracture mechanics