A Review of Experimentally Informed Micromechanical Modeling of Nanoporous Metals: From Structural Descriptors to Predictive Structure–Property Relationships
Abstract Nanoporous metals made by dealloying take the form of macroscopic (mm- or cm-sized) porous bodies with a solid fraction of around 30%. The material exhibits a network structure of “ligaments” with an average ligament diameter that can be adjusted between 5 and 500 nm. Current research explores the use of nanoporous metals as functional materials with respect to electrochemical conversion and storage, bioanalytical and biomedical applications, and actuation and sensing. The mechanical behavior of the network structure provides the scope for fundamental research, particularly because of the high complexity originating from the randomness of the structure and the challenges arising from the nanosized ligaments, which can be accessed through an experiment only indirectly via the testing of the macroscopic properties. The strength of nanoscale ligaments increases systematically with decreasing size, and owing to the high surface-to-volume ratio their elastic and plastic properties can be additionally tuned by applying an electric potential. Therefore, nanoporous metals offer themselves as suitable model systems for exploring the structure–property relationships of complex interconnected microstructures as well as the basic mechanisms of the chemo-electro-mechanical coupling at interfaces. The micromechanical modeling of nanoporous metals is a rapidly growing field that strongly benefits from developments in computational methods, high-performance computing, and visualization techniques; it also benefits at the same time through advances in characterization techniques, including nanotomography, 3D image processing, and algorithms for geometrical and topological analysis. The review article collects articles on the structural characterization and micromechanical modeling of nanoporous metals and discusses the acquired understanding in the context of advancements in the experimental discipline. The concluding remarks are given in the form of a summary and an outline of future perspectives.