You are on page 1of 16

Author's Accepted Manuscript

FINITE ELEMENT MODELING OF NONLOCAL


BEAMS
Francesco Marotti de Sciarra
PII: S1386-9477(14)00006-X
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physe.2014.01.005
Reference: PHYSE11482
To appear in: Physica E
Received date: 16 November 2013
Accepted date: 7 January 2014
Cite this article as: Francesco Marotti de Sciarra, FINITE ELEMENT MODELING
OF NONLOCAL BEAMS, Physica E, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.physe.2014.01.005
This is a PDF file of an unedited manuscript that has been accepted for
publication. As a service to our customers we are providing this early version of
the manuscript. The manuscript will undergo copyediting, typesetting, and
review of the resulting galley proof before it is published in its final citable form.
Please note that during the production process errors may be discovered which
could affect the content, and all legal disclaimers that apply to the journal
pertain.
www.elsevier.com/locate/physe
1

FINITE ELEMENT MODELING OF NONLOCAL BEAMS

Francesco Marotti de Sciarra
Department of Structures for Engineering and Architecture, University of Naples Federico II,
via Claudio, 21 80125 Naples, Italy
marotti@unina.it

Abstract. Based on a high-order EulerBernoulli nonlocal beam theory, a nonlocal finite element
method (NFEM) is consistently developed to evaluate the displacement and the bending moment of
nanobeams. As a benchmark a simply supported nanobeam under a uniform external load is
considered and the numerical solution obtained by means of the proposed NFEM is compared with
the exact nonlocal solution obtained by solving a sixth-order differential equation. The comparison
shows that the NFEM provides the exact solution of the nonlocal problem, for any value of the
internal length parameter, with a coarse mesh. The proposed NFEM does not show pathological
behaviours such as mesh dependence, numerical instability or boundary effects. Moreover a
cantilever nanobeam subjected to an intermediate applied force is addressed. Contrary to what is
reported in the literature, the proposed methodology shows that the nonlocal effects are apparent
both left and right of the application point of the external force.
Keywords: Thermodynamics, Nonlocal elasticity, Bending, Nonlocal finite elements.
1. Introduction
Nonlocal elasticity has been used in recent years to properly address nano-beam, -plate and -shell
due to their small length scale.
The basic difference between classical and nonlocal elasticity relies on the form of the
constitutive equation since a nonlocal elastic model takes into account possible interactions with
other material points in the vicinity of the considered point and an internal length scale is introduced
[4, 11, 12, 13, 23].
In previous studies different beam theories, including those of EulerBernoulli, Timoshenko,
Levinson and Reddy [1, 8, 19, 20], has been addressed to analyse bending, buckling and vibration
of nonlocal beams [2, 22].
In the present paper a high-order EulerBernoulli nonlocal beam theory is considered and,
starting from the nonlocal continuum formulation, an original nonlocal finite element method
(NFEM) is provided to analyse bending of nanobeams.
As a benchmark a simply supported nanobeam under a uniform external load is considered and
the exact solution obtained solving a sixth-order differential equation is provided. The numerical
solution obtained by means of the proposed NFEM, with only four elements all of equal size,
coincides with the nonlocal exact solution for any value of the internal length parameter. Moreover
the proposed NFEM does not show pathological behaviours such as mesh dependence, numerical
instability or boundary effects.
It is worth noting that cantilever nanobeams are beginning to be widely used in ultrasensitive
nano-biosensors so that it is important to develop an effective NFEM to provide a quantitative
analysis of the displacement and of the bending moment which can be used to predict the response
of nanomechanical devices.
Accordingly a nonlocal finite element analysis of a cantilever nanobeam subjected to an
intermediate applied force is addressed.
2

Existing models of nanobeams, see e.g. Arash & Wang [3],

lead to the conclusion that the small
scale term affects the response of the cantilevered nanobeam only for the portion of the beam
between the applied force and the free end of the cantilever nanobeam. In other terms, the
deformation at all positions between the fixed end point and the one where the external force is
applied is not affected by nonlocality and scale effects start instantaneously after the setting of the
applied force.
On the contrary, in this paper a different result is pointed out by the proposed model.
In fact the nonlocal effects on a cantilever nanobeam subjected to a concentrated force in an
intermediate position are everywhere effective on the nanobeam. The analysis shows that the
nanobeam does have a deformation due to nonlocal effects in the zone between the fixed end point
and the one where the external force is applied. In the remaining part of the nanobeam, i.e. the zone
between the applied force and the free end, nonlocal effects induce a displacement field which turns
out to be greater than the one pertaining to the local behaviour induced by the rigid motion of the
beam.
Since the nonlocal behaviour is present over the entire range of the nanobeam, the rotation of the
beam cross-sections is different from the corresponding local one also in the zone between the fixed
end point and the one where the external force is applied. Moreover the nonlocal effects are such
that the rotation field of the nonlocal model tends to the local value moving to the free end of the
nanobeam. In particular the rotation of the free cross-section, evaluated using the local and nonlocal
models, do coincide for any value of the internal length.
It is worth noting that the bending moment of the nonlocal model coincides with the
corresponding one of the local model.

2. Nonlocal Elasticity
The first principle of thermodynamics (see e.g. [14, 18]) for an isothermal process and for a
nonlocal model is expressed as follows:
c = n - s +v q +P (2.1)
where the internal energy density e depends on elastic strain s and entropy p. The heat conveyed to
an element of volume is the divergence of the heat flux q and the nonlocal stress is given by n. The
symbol v is the gradient operator and the dependence on the point x is dropped for simplicity.
The nonlocality residual function P is related to the interactions between neighbour elements of
the material. A basic assumption with reference to nonlocality is that the body has not energy
interactions with the outer so that the following isolation condition is supposed to hold:
] P(x) Jx = u
B
. (2.2)

The second principle of thermodynamics for a nonlocal behaviour, is written in its classical
pointwise form, see e.g. [16]:
p I +v q -vI -
q
1
u
(2.3)
in any point of the body where p is the rate of the internal entropy per unit volume and T is the
absolute temperature.
Considering isothermal processes, the total dissipation is obtained by combining Eq. (2.1), Eq.
(2.3) and expressing the internal energy in terms of the free energy to get:
= n - s -

+P u.
(2.4)
The body energy dissipation is given by integrating Eq. (2.4) and holds for any admissible
deformation mechanism so that the nonlocal elastic constitutive relation can be obtained in the
following form:
n = J
s
. (2.5)
3

It is easy to show that the body energy dissipation vanishes and the dissipation (2.4) is also
pointwise vanishing, i.e. = u.
Let us consider a thin nanobeam with length L, cross-sectional area A and Youngs modulus E.
The curvature is designated by EI, the thickness is h, and the width in the out-of-plane (z) direction
is b. The beam is subjected to an external distributed transverse load p(x).
On the basis of the well-known Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, a straight line normal to the
midplane before deformation remains straight and perpendicular to the deflected midplane after
deformation.
The axial elongation e is due to transverse displacements v of the nanobeam and is given by
e = -:
(2)
y where y is the bending axis of the nanobeam and the superposed apex ()
n
denotes the
n-th derivative of () with respect to the nanobeam axis x.
Nonlocality due to long range interactions arising in an elastic structure can be provided in terms
of a differential relation according to nonlocal gradient theories, see e.g. Fleck & Hutchinson [5].
Hence let us define the quantities:
n = j
o
u
[ , s = j
e
e
(1)
[ , E = E _
1 u
u (c
o
o)
2
_, (2.6)
where a is the internal characteristic length and c
o
is a material constant, so that the following
expression of the free energy can be defined on the basis of the quadratic functional introduced by
Mindlin [17] in which the coupling terms are disregarded:
(s) = Es - s =
1
2
Ee
2
+
1
2
E(c
o
o)
2
e
(1)2
. (2.7)
Consequently the vanishing of the body energy dissipation provides the relation:
] n - s Jx
L
0
= ] J(s) - s Jx
L
0
=
] o - eJx
L
0
= ] Ee - eJx
L
0
+] EI
2

2
e
(1)
- e
(1)
Jx
L
0
(2.8)
where = (c
o
o)I is a nonlocal parameter. Classical elasticity for continuum mechanics is
recovered in the limit of vanishing the nonlocal nanoscale parameter, that is - u.
Eq. (2.8) shows that the static variables dual of the strains e and e
(1)
are the stresses o
o
and o
1
,
respectively, given by:
o
o
= Ee o
1
= E(c
o
o)
2
e
(1)
. (2.9)
Note that the microstress o
1
is the scalar counterpart of the so-called double stress tensor introduced
in [16].
Since the nonlocal effects depend on the geometrically necessary dislocations (GNDs) and
statically stored dislocations (SSDs), see Gao et al. [6], Voyiadjis et al. [24], the nonlocal behaviour
is present as long as there are dislocations in the crystal grains. If for a given material the
mechanism of deformations is no longer dislocation based for grains smaller than a specified size,
the nonlocal effects on strengthening tends to reduce and the length scale can be assumed to reduce.
In such cases, bending can be associated with other mechanisms such as grain boundary sliding
with minimal GNDs [7, 26].
It is worth noting that a non-fixed internal length parameter depending on the deformation of the
nanobeams can be introduced in the model but, in this paper, a constant internal length is
considered.
The bending moments H
o
and H
1
associated with the local and nonlocal stresses (2.9) can be
expressed in terms of strains or, equivalently, in terms of transversal deflection of the nanobeam in
the following form:
_
H
o
= ] EeyJx =
L
0
-] E:
(2)
y
(2)
Jx =
L
0
-EI:
(2)

H
1
= ] EI
2

2
e
(1)
yJx =
L
0
- ] EI
2

2
:
(3)
y
(2)
Jx =
L
0
-EII
2

2
:
(3)
(2.10)
Hence the vanishing of the energy dissipation can be written in terms of the bending moments in
the form:
4

] H
(2)
- :Jx
L
0
= ] H
o
- :
(2)
Jx
L
0
+ ] H
1
- :
(3)
Jx
L
0
(2.11)
and in terms of the derivative of the displacement as follows:
] EI:
(2)
- :
(2)
Jx
L
0
+ ] EII
2

2
:
(3)
- :
(3)
Jx
L
0
= ] p - :Jx
L
0
. (2.12)
The application of the Green formula to the Eq. (2.12) and the ordinary localization technique yield
the following sixth-order differential equation which governs the considered nonlocal problem:
EI(c
o
o)
2
:
(6)
-EI:
(4)
= -p. (2.13)
The related boundary conditions are reported in Table 1.

Table 1. Boundary conditions
State variable Associated boundary condition
:
H
(1)
= -EI:
(3)
+EI(c
o
o)
2
:
(5)
:
(1)
H = -EI:
(2)
+EI(c
o
o)
2
:
(4)
:
(2)
u = EI:
(3)


3. Nonlocal Finite Element
The nonlocal elastic problem can be numerically solved by means of a nonlocal finite element
approach starting from the Eq. (2.11) above.
The domain B = |u, I] occupied by the nanobeam is partitioned in subdomains B
c
, with
e=1,,N, such that U
c=1
N
B
c
= B and B

r B
k
= for any element with i = k.
In a conforming finite element discretization, the interpolated displacement field :
h
(x) =
{:
h
1
(x), :
h
2
(x), , :
h
c
(x), , :
h
N
(x)] satisfies the interelement continuity conditions and the
homogeneous boundary conditions so that there are no rigid-body displacements [21].
The unknown displacement field v(z) for the e-th element is given in the interpolated form
:
h
c
(x) = N
c
(x)q
c
where z belongs to the e-th element. The matrix collecting the shape functions is
N
c
(x) and the vector collecting the nodal displacement of the e-th finite element is labelled q
c
.
In the proposed model there are three parameters q

for each node, governing the bending of


nanobeams, so that it results:
q
c
= |
q
c1
q
c2
q
c3
q
c4
q
c5
q
c6
]
1
. (3.1)
The parameters q
c
, i=1,,6, represent the displacements and its derivatives up to the second at the
end points of the e-th nanobeam element B
c
defined by the interval |x
1
, x
2
], i.e. q
c1,4
= :
h
c
|
x=x
1
,x
2
,
q
c2,5
= :
h
c(1)

x=x
1
,x
2
and q
c3,6
= :
h
c(2)

x=x
1
,x
2
.
The matrix collecting the chosen shape functions in the nanobeam e-th element B
c
is given by:
N
c
= |N
11
c
N
12
c
N
13
c
N
14
c
N
15
c
N
16
c
] (3.2)
where the shape functions are:
`
1
1
1
1
N
11
c
= -
(x
2
-x)
3
[10x
1
2
+x
2
2
+3x
2
x+6x
2
-5x
1
(x
2
+3x)
(x
1
-x
2
)
S
N
12
c
=
(4x
1
-x
2
-3x)(x
1
-x)(x
2
-x)
3
(x
1
-x
2
)
4
N
13
c
=
(x
1
-x)
2
(-x
2
+x)
3
2(x
1
-x
2
)
3
N
14
c
=
(x
1
-x)
3
(x
1
2
-5x
1
x
2
+10x
2
2
+3(x
1
-5x
2
)x+6x
2
)
(x
1
-x
2
)
S
N
15
c
=
(x
1
-x)
3
(-x
2
+x)(x
1
-4x
2
+3x)
(x
1
-x
2
)
4
N
16
c
=
(x
1
-x)
3
(x
2
-x)
2
2(x
1
-x
2
)
3
.
(3.3)
The finite element procedure requires the definition of the assembly operator
e
which provides the nodal
displacement parameters
e
q , associated with the e-th element, in terms of the nodal parameters q by means of the
following parametric relation
e e
= q q .
5

Then, following the methodology provided in [15], the matrix form of the discrete problem is
obtained from (2.11) in the form:



1 1 1
N N N
T T T
ee
e ee e e e e e e e
e e e = = =
+ =

K q K q f
G
(3.4)
where the local and nonlocal element stiffness matrices are respectively given by



ee
K and

ee K
G
, and they are expressed in terms of the shape functions by the following formulae:






( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
( ) ( )
( )
( )
2 2
1 1
2
2 2 3 3
,
x x
T T
ee
ee e e e o e
x x
N x EIN x dx N x EI e a N x dx = =

K K
G
(3.5)
and the nodal external forces are given by:


( )
2
1
( ) .
x
T
e e e
x
N x p x dx =

f (3.6)
The solving linear equation system is obtained from (3.4) and is given by:



= q f (3.7)
where the global stiffness matrix is given by the sum of the standard stiffness matrix

K and of the nonlocal stiffness matrix

K
G
reflecting the nonlocality of the model, i.e. = + H K K
G
.
It is worth noting that the band width of the nonlocal stiffness matrix is equal to the one of the
standard stiffness matrix so that the nonlocal effects do not increase the dimension of the numerical
problem.
Note that the global stiffness matrix

is symmetric and positive definite.
Finally, the definitions (3.5) of the matrices


ee
K and ee K
G
indicate that the nonlocal matrix vanishes in the case of a local elastic behaviour so that the solving
equation system (3.7) reduces to the standard local FEM given by the classical equation
= Kq f .
6

4. Examples
The proposed nonlocal finite element method (NFEM) is used to provide the macroscopic response
of cantilever nanobeams in terms of deformation and bending moment which can be used to predict
the response of nanomechanical sensors.
The advantage of the proposed NFEM is that a coarse mesh can match the exact results which is
obtained by the resolution of the nonlocal high-order differential equation (2.13) as shown in the
next subsection.
4.1. A cantilever nanobeam subject to a distributed load
The length of the considered cantilever nanobeam is L = 100 nm and the beam is subjected to a uniformly distributed
transverse load
o
p p = . The value
0
o
e a = of the nonlocal parameter provides the classical (local) behaviour. In order to illustrate the influence on the
displacement and bending moment fields of the variability of the nonlocal parameter
o
e a , the following values
o
e a =4 nm,





o
e a =10 nm and

o
e a =20 nm are considered.
The nanobeam is discretized with n=4 and n=8 finite elements all of equal size. In order to
check the performance of the proposed NFEM, the nonlocal solutions are compared with the
corresponding exact nonlocal solutions achieved by solving the sixth-order differential equation
(2.13).
The vertical displacement of the nanobeam is plotted in Fig. 1. The finite element solution of the local model is
obtained by setting

( ) 0
o
e a nm = and the related displacement is labelled NF0-4 (4 elements) and NF0-8 (8 elements) in Fig. 1. In the
following the suffixes -4 or -8 denote the number of elements of the considered mesh.
The displacements corresponding to the nonlocal parameter values

( ) { } 4,10, 20
o
e a nm = , obtained by using the proposed NFEM, are respectively labelled NF1-4, NF2-4, NF3-4 (4
elements) and NF1-8, NF2-8, NF3-8 (8 elements) in Fig. 1.
The finite element solutions of the nonlocal model can thus be compared with the corresponding exact solutions
obtained by the resolution of the sixth-order differential equation (2.13) considering the values


( ) { } 0, 4,10, 20
o
e a nm = . The plots of the displacement field are reported in Fig. 1 as E0, E1, E2 and E3.
Note that the solutions evaluated using only 4 elements in the NFEM exactly match the
corresponding exact solutions. Further the comparison between the displacements calculated with
the NFEM using the mesh composed by 4 and 10 elements clearly show that there are no mesh
dependence or boundary effects, see Fig. 1.



7


Figure 1 Deflection of the cantilever nanobeam: nonlocal finite element solutions NF0-4, NF0-8 with
0
o
e a = ; NF1-4, NF1-8 with
4
o
e a = ; NF2-4, NF2-8 with



10
o
e a = ; NF3-4, NF3-8 with


20
o
e a = . Exact solutions: E0 with
0
o
e a = ; E1 with
4
o
e a = , E2 with
10
o
e a = , E3 with
20
o
e a = .


A more significant nonlocal effect is apparent with increasing the nonlocal parameter. In fact the
solution NF1-4 is quite close to the local one E0 while the cantilever nanobeam becomes stiffer, see
plot NF3-4, if the nonlocal parameter increases.
The bending moment of the considered cantilever nanobeam associated with the local and
nonlocal behaviours is reported in Fig. 2.
The bending moment obtained by the NFEM for the nonlocal parameter values

( ) { } 0,4,10,20
o
e a = are reported in Fig. 2. The evaluated values of the bending moment do coincide with the local
ones for any value of the nonlocal parameter as reported in Fig. 2.
The nonlocal finite element solutions then be compared with the corresponding exact solutions
obtained by the resolution of the sixth-order differential equation which are labelled E0, E1, E2 and
E3.
0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
V
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

d
i
s
p
l
a
c
e
m
e
n
t
*
1
0
4
[
n
m
]
Beamaxis[nm]
E0
E1
E2
E3
NF04
NF14
NF24
NF34
NF08
NF18
NF28
NF38
8

The solutions of the NFEM with n=4 and n=8 elements accurately match the exact solution so
that the bending moment is not affected by the nonlocality of the model.




Figure 2 Bending moment of the cantilever nanobeam: nonlocal finite element solutions NF0-4, NF0-8 with

0
o
e a = ; NF1-4, NF1-8 with



4
o
e a = ; NF2-4, NF2-8 with

10
o
e a = ; NF3-4, NF3-8 with


20
o
e a = . Exact solutions: E0 with

0
o
e a = ; E1 with


4
o
e a = , E2 with 10
o
e a = , E3 with 20
o
e a = .



4.2. A cantilever nanobeam subjected to an applied force
The scale effects on the deformation of nanobeams subjected to transverse loadings via the nonlocal
beam theory has been investigated, e.g., in Arash & Wang (2012) and a solution for a cantilever
nanobeam with length L subjected to a concentrated force F at x = l (with l<L) is provided.
As stated in Arash & Wang (2012), one of the main conclusions is the fact that the small scale term affects the response
of the cantilever nanobeam only for the portion of the beam with x l and that the nonlocal Timoshenko beam theory
0 20 40 60 80 100
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
B
e
n
d
i
n
g

m
o
m
e
n
t
*
1
0
4
[
n
N
*
n
m
]
Beamaxis[nm]
E0E1E2E3
NF04
NF14
NF24
NF34
NF08,NF18,
NF28,NF38
9

does not induce additional scale effects with respect to the nonlocal Euler-Bernoulli theory. In other terms it is pointed
out that the deflection at all the points on the left side of the applied force is not affected by nonlocality and scale effects
start instantaneously after the setting x l = of the applied force.
On the contrary, a different result is provided by the proposed model even if the bending moment of the nonlocal model
coincides with the bending moment of the local model for any value of the nonlocal parameter. In fact, the nonlocal
effects on a cantilever nanobeam subjected to a concentrated force in an intermediate position
x l = are also present at the points on the left side of the force F, i.e. for
x l . Beyond the position x l = of the applied force, i.e.
x l , the nonlocal effects induce a deformation of the nanobeam so that the portion [l, L] of the cantilever nanobeam
does not undergo a rigid motion.
For the purpose of illustration, some numerical results are presented in Figs. 37 to show the behaviour of the cantilever
nanobeam subjected to a concentrated force. The considered beam is made of epoxy with the following properties [25]:
elastic modulus E = 1.44 GPa, specimen height h = 17.6 m, cross-sectional shape b / h = 2, length of the beam L / h =
20 and material length scale parameter
{ } 0, / 4, / 2, a h h h = so that the internal length assumes the values (Lam, Yang, Chong, Wanga & Tong, 2003)
{ } 0, 4.4, 8.8,17.6 a m = . The material parameter is
o
e = 2. The external force F = 50 m is applied in two different positions, namely x = 176 m and x = 264 m.


Figure 3 Vertical displacement of the cantilever nanobeam due to the applied force F = 50 N at l = 264 m
(continuous line) and at l = 176 m (dashed line). Nonlocal finite element solutions NF0-4, NF0-16 with 0
o
e a = ;
NF1-4, NF1-16 with
8.8
o
e a = ; NF2-4, NF2-16 with 17.6
o
e a = ; NF3-4, NF3-16 with
35.2
o
e a = .

The nanobeam is discretized with n=4 and n=16 finite elements all of equal size. Figs. 3 and 4
show the deflection of the cantilever nanobeam for the four values of the internal length. The
continuous and dashed lines are related to the vertical displacement of the nanobeam if the force is
applied at x = 264 m or at x = 176 m respectively.
The close-up of the deflection plot is reported in Fig. 4 in the interval x = [110,176] m.

Shown in
Fig. 4


F
Ll l
0
5
10
15
20
0 44 88 132 176 220 264 308 352
V
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

d
i
s
p
l
a
c
e
m
e
n
t



[

m
]
Beam axis [m]
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
NF04
NF14
NF24
NF34
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
10


Figure 4 Close-up of the vertical displacement of the cantilever nanobeam due to the applied force F = 50 N at x =
264 m (continuous line) and at x = 176 m (dashed line). Nonlocal finite element solutions NF0-16 with

0
o
e a = ; NF1-16 with



8.8
o
e a = ; NF2-16 with









17.6
o
e a = ; NF3-16 with

35.2
o
e a = .


The plot of the rotations




(1)
( ) ( ) x v x = is reported in Fig. 5 and its close-up, in the interval x = [110,176] m, is set in Fig. 6.
It is easy to observe that the deflections and the elastic rotations predicted by the NFEM are smaller than those by the
classical (local) model. Moreover, the nonlocal effects are also apparent in the points of the cantilever nanobeam at the
left side with respect to the applied point of the external force, i.e. the interval given by x

[0, 264] m (continuous line) and by x

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
110 132 154 176
V
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

d
i
s
p
l
a
c
e
m
e
n
t




[

m
]
Beam axis [m]
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
11




[0, 176] m (dashed line). Hence, the proposed model provides a nonlocal behaviour in terms of deflections and
rotations of the cantilever nanobeam at all points.
The vertical displacement of the cantilever nanobeam at the right of the applied point of the external force, i.e. the
interval given by x

[264, 352] m (continuous line) and by x [176, 352] m (dashed line), is not a linear function of the beam axis x
due to the presence of the nonlocal effects for { } / 4, / 2, a h h h = , see Figs. 3-4. As a consequence, the rotations
pertaining to the nonlocal model are not constant functions, see Figs. 5-6.
It is apparent that, if the internal length tends to zero, i.e. the nonlocal model tends to a local
behaviour, the vertical deflection tends to the classical rigid motion and the rotation tend to become
constant.



Figure 5 Rotation of the cantilever nanobeam due to the applied force F = 50 N at x = 264 m (continuous line) and
at x = 176 m (dashed line). Nonlocal finite element solutions NF0-4, NF0-16 with 0
o
e a = ; NF1-4, NF1-16 with
8.8
o
e a = ; NF2-4, NF2-16 with 17.6
o
e a = ; NF3-4, NF3-16 with 35.2
o
e a = .


Moreover the plot of the rotations reported in Fig. 5 shows that, for any value of the nonlocal
parameters, the rotation field tends to the local behaviour going to the free end of the cantilever
nanobeam. In particular, at the free end of the beam, the values of the rotation of the cross-section
obtained by the nonlocal model for any value of the internal length coincide with the local one.

0
0.01
0.02
0.03
0.04
0.05
0.06
0.07
0.08
0 44 88 132 176 220 264 308 352
R
o
t
a
t
i
o
n
Beam axis [m]
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
NF04
NF14
NF24
NF34
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
Shown in Fig. 6
12


Figure 6 Close-up of the rotation of the cantilever nanobeam reported in Fig. 5 due to the applied force F = 50 N at x
= 264 m (continuous line) and at x = 176 m (dashed line). Nonlocal finite element solutions NF0-16 with 0
o
e a = ;
NF1-16 with 8.8
o
e a = ; NF2-16 with 17.6
o
e a = ; NF3-16 with 35.2
o
e a = .


The bending moments associated with the two positions of the external force, that is x = 264 m
(continuous line) and at x = 176 m (dashed line), are reported in Fig. 7. It is apparent that the
nonlocal model provide the same bending moment of the local one for any value of the internal
length.


Figure 7 Bending moment of the cantilever nanobeam due to the applied force F = 50 N at x = 264 m (continuous
line) and at x = 176 m (dashed line). Nonlocal finite element solutions NF3-4, NF3-16 with 35.2
o
e a = .
0.02
0.025
0.03
0.035
0.04
0.045
0.05
0.055
0.06
0.065
0.07
110 132 154 176
R
o
t
a
t
i
o
n
Beam axis [m]
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
NF016
NF116
NF216
NF316
14000
12000
10000
8000
6000
4000
2000
0
B
e
n
d
i
n
g

m
o
m
e
n
t
Beam axis [m]
NF316
NF34
NF316
NF34
13



Furthermore, Figs. 36 show that there are large differences in the deflection and rotation with
respect to the local solution if the beam thickness h is equal to the material length scale length
parameter, i.e. a = 17.6 m.
Hence the size effect becomes more significant if the beam thickness is comparable to the
material length scale parameter and this result is an agreement with the experimental observations
[10].

5. Conclusions
On the basis of a consistent nonlocal thermodynamic analysis, a nonlocal finite element model for
nanobeams is developed.
The proposed procedure has the advantage that it turns out to be quite general and can be
straightforwardly extended to different models of nanobeams.
A cantilever nanobeam under a uniformly distributed transverse load is considered. The
numerical solution is obtained by the proposed NFEM and the results show no pathological
behaviours such as mesh dependence, numerical instability or boundary effects. The solutions
obtained from the proposed NFEM, in terms of displacement and bending moment, are thus
compared with the exact nonlocal solution for several values of the nonlocal parameter. The NFEM
provides the same values of the exact solution for any value of the internal length and with a mesh
composed by only four elements of equal size.
Moreover a cantilever nanobeam subjected to an intermediate applied force is addressed.
Contrary to what is reported in the literature, nonlocal effects are apparent both left and right of the
application point of the external force.
Acknowledgements
The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Project FARO IV Tornata, 2012.

References
[1] Aydogdu, M. (2009). A general nonlocal beam theory: Its application to nanobeam
bending, buckling and vibration. Physica E, 41, 16511655.
[2] Ansari, R., & Sahmani, S. (2011). Bending behavior and buckling of nanobeams
including surface stress effects corresponding to different beam theories. International
Journal of Engineering Science, 49, 12441255.
[3] Arash, B. & Wang, Q. (2012). A review on the application of nonlocal elastic models in
modeling of carbon nanotubes and graphenes. Comput. Mat. Sci., 51, 303-313.
[4] Eringen, A.C. (1972). Linear theory of nonlocal elasticity and dispersion of plane waves,
International Journal of Engineering Science, 10, 425435.
[5] Fleck, N.A. & Hutchinson, J .W. (2001). A reformulation of strain gradient plasticity.
Journal of Mech. Phys. Solids, 49, 22452271.
[6] Gao, H., Huang, Y., Nix, W.D. & Hutchinson, J .W. (1999). Mechanism based strain
gradient plasticity - I Theory. Journal of Mech. Phys. Sol., 47, 1239-1963.
14

[7] Haque M.A. & Saif, M.T.A. (2003). Strain gradient effect in nanoscale thin films. Acta
Mater., 51, 30533061.
[8] Kong, S., Zhou, S., Nie, Z., Wang, K. (2009). Static and dynamic analysis of micro
beams based on strain gradient elasticity theory. International Journal of Engineering
Science, 47, 487-498.
[9] Lam, D.C.C., Yang, F., Chong, A.C.M., Wanga J ., & Tong, P. (2003). Experiments and
theory in strain gradient elasticity. Journal of Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 51, 1477-
1508.
[10] McFarland A.W., & Colton, J .S. (2005). Role of material microstructure in plate stiffness
with relevance to micro cantilever sensors. Journal of Micromechanics and
Microengineering, 15, 1060-1067.
[11] Marotti de Sciarra, F. (2008). Variational formulations, convergence and stability
properties in non-local elastoplasticity. International Journal of Solids Structures, 45
2322-2354.
[12] Marotti de Sciarra, F. (2009a). A nonlocal model with strain-based damage. International
Journal of Solids Struct., 46 4107-4122.
[13] Marotti de Sciarra, F. (2009b). Novel variational formulations for nonlocal plasticity.
International Journal of Plasticity, 25, 302-331.
[14] Marotti de Sciarra, F. (2009c). On non-local and non-homogeneous elastic continua.
International Journal of Solids Struct., 46, 651-676.
[15] Marotti de Sciarra, F. A finite element for nonlocal elastic analysis, in: IV International
Conference on Computational Methods for Coupled Problems in Science and
Engineering, Eds. M. Papadrakakis, E. Oate, B. Schrefler, CIMNE, Spain, 496505,
2011.
[16] Marotti de Sciarra, F. (2012). Hardening plasticity with nonlocal strain damage.
International Journal of Plasticity, 34, 114-138.
[17] Mindlin, R.D. (1964). Micro-structure in linear elasticity. Arch. Rational Mech. Anal., 16,
51-78.
[18] Polizzotto, C. (2002). Thermodynamics and continuum fracture mechanics for nonlocal-
elastic plastic materials. Eur. J. Mech. A Solids, 21, 85103.
[19] Reddy, J .N. (2007). Nonlocal theories for bending, buckling and vibration of beams.
International Journal of Engineering Science, 45. 288307.
[20] Reddy, J . N. (2010). Nonlocal nonlinear formulations for bending of classical and shear
deformation theories of beams and plates. International J ournal of Engineering Science,
48, 15071518.
[21] Reddy, J . N. An Introduction to Nonlinear Finite Element Analysis, 2nd ed., Oxford
University Press, 2013.
[22] Roque, C. M. C., Ferreira, A. J . M., & Reddy, J . N. (2011). Analysis of Timoshenko
nanobeams with a nonlocal formulation and meshless method. International Journal of
Engineering Science, 49, 976984.
[23] Thai, H.T. (2012). A non-local beam theory for bending, buckling, and vibration of
nanobeams. International Journal of Engineering Science, 52, 56-64.
15

[24] Voyiadjis, G.Z. & Abu Al-Rub, R.K. (2005). Gradient plasticity theory with a variable
length scale parameter. International Journal of Solids and Structures, 42, 3998-4029.
[25] Wang, Q. & Liew, K.M. (2007). Application of nonlocal continuum mechanics to static
analysis of micro- and nano-structures. Phys. Lett. A, 363, 236-242.
[26] Zbib H.M. & Aifantis, E.C. (2003). Size eects and length scales in gradient plasticity
and dislocation dynamics. Scripta Materialia, 48, 155160.