The Young’s modulus of zinc oxide nanowires was measured to be significantly lower than bulk zinc oxide, which cannot be explained within the framework of existing theories. We propose that the strong electromechanical coupling in piezoelectric materials, such as zinc oxide, influences the measured mechanical properties. The asymmetric wurtzite crystal structure and the ionic nature of the molecular bonding result in internal electric fields during straining of the zinc oxide nanowire, which in turn lead to reduction in the measured modulus. In case of flexural deformation, additional electromechanical coupling is present due to the flexoelectric effect.

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